The Rundown: Sandoval and Ramirez Signings Set to Become Official Today, Red Sox Reportedly Not Close to Deal with Lester

With the Red Sox signings of shortstop Hanley Ramirez and third baseman Pablo Sandoval set to become official today, we’re still left wondering whether LHP Jon Lester will be following them along to Boston.

According to Peter Gammons, Lester won’t be meeting with St. Louis until next week, and we may not get a final decision until right before the Winter Meetings in December.

Rob Bradford confirms that the Red Sox are not on the verge of signing Lester, and that rumors of the team setting a Wednesday deadline are “inaccurate.”

Also, a new team connected to Lester popped up yesterday: the Giants, according to Ken Rosenthal. After losing out on retaining Sandoval, the Giants could use that money to sign Lester, I suppose. I’m still surprised Sandoval didn’t stay in San Francisco, by the way.

With another day to fully process the Ramirez and Sandoval signings, I’m no more confident the Cubs will land Lester. However, I keep thinking back to how Boston has thus far made fairly low offers. So maybe — even though they would like to have Lester back — they don’t feel they need to spend like crazy for him. They may be able to address any pitching needs via a trade of their current overflowing number of outfielders.

This would be good news for the Cubs. However, I still fear another team swoops in, such as the Yankees. I’m heavily preparing for this to happen, actually.

Other notes

* It seems that the next alternative to Jon Lester is Cole Hamels, as opposed to other free agent pitchers like James Shields or Max Scherzer. As we have heard before, the Red Sox and Cubs are both interested — and could “jump” if Lester slips through the cracks, according to Ken Rosenthal. However, Bob Nightengale throws another team into the ring: the Dodgers. I guess I’m just a little surprised to hear this much interest in Hamels (who would require top prospects to be traded) over a guy like Scherzer.

* Here’s a roundup of stats from the winter leagues from Randy Wehofer. Some highlights: Junior Lake has been having some success stealing bases in the Dominican League, but has struggled with strikeouts. You have to wonder how much longer the Cubs will keep Lake around. He has a lot of raw talent, but I don’t think he’ll ever put it all together. Arismendy Alcantara is hitting .292 in seven games in the Venezuela League, with one home run.

* The St. Louis Cardinals’ director of scouting, Dan Kantrovitz, is heading to the A’s to serve as assistant general manager. Kantrovitz had only been with the Cardinals organization since 2012. He will fill the vacancy created when Farhan Zaidi left the A’s to become GM of the Dodgers. Hey maybe this cripples the Cardinals’ ability to scout, right? Right?

* The 2015 Hall of Fame ballot has been announced. I have to admit, it’s pretty weird to see the star players from my youth start appearing on HOF ballots. This year’s newcomers include Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez. Former Cub (and major letdown) Nomar Garciaparra, also appears on the list.

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