The Rundown: Red Sox Expected to Sign Hanley Ramirez, Will Pablo Sandoval Follow? Does That Affect a Jon Lester Signing?

We already know the Boston Red Sox could be the front-runner for the Cubs’ prized free agent target, LHP Jon Lester. And they are heavily pursuing free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Well, it appears we can add another name to the list: shortstop Hanley Ramirez, according to multiple reports. This one is sounding like a done deal, as Ramirez is expected to finalize a deal today for around five years, $90 million.

Sandoval has received offers from two other teams — San Francisco and San Diego — and he should be making his decision between the three teams this week, possibly as early as today.

So if Ramirez and Sandoval end up in Boston, does that have any effect on a Lester signing? I’m not sure the Red Sox would be willing to commit to three huge contracts like that. They are only a short while removed from being tied down by big deals with Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. Do they really want to go down that road again?

I wouldn’t rule it out. However, Sandoval to the Red Sox isn’t a sure thing. The Padres have reportedly have made the highest offer, but I think sticking around with the World Series champs or heading to Boston is more likely.

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo believes if Ramirez and Sandoval become Red Sox, a trade could come in the near future — perhaps Yoenis Cespedes for a pitcher. Would that perhaps make a Lester signing less likely?

Regardless of what happens with Ramirez and Sandoval, we most likely won’t know Lester’s until after Thanksgiving. He is still set to meet with at least two more teams this week. Cubs fans will just have to keep waiting.

Other notes

* Jesse Rogers talks through the pursuit of free agent catcher Russell Martin. It sounds like the Cubs were very close to landing Martin, but in the end, the Blue Jays simply made up their mind that they were getting him no matter what. Martin was clearly desired by the Cubs, but I’m glad to see them set a number and stick to it. This front office is going to remain patient, and as they have said many times, they will tune out the “white noise” of fans and the media. They simply won’t sign somebody just to sign somebody. And that makes me feel good.

* Buster Olney wonders if the Cubs bringing over Henry Blanco to become quality assurance coach could help facilitate a trade for Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero. My biggest worry about Montero is whether his personality would make him a good leader in the Cubs clubhouse. I would think, at least, that Blanco would be able to give a good assessment on that, either way.

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