The Rundown: Giants Meet with Lester, Braves Out, Markakis May Not Re-Sign with Orioles

Things may be looking a little more promising on the Jon Lester front for the Cubs. But I’m still not getting my hopes up.

The Giants met with the free-agent pitcher yesterday, writes Jon Heyman, while the Cubs may be leading the way with their offer. According to Heyman, the Cubs have offered six years and $138 million, while the Red Sox are willing to go at least $130 for six years.

This would confirm David Kaplan’s report from last week that said the Cubs have offered more than $135 million.

Meanwhile, it sounds like the Braves are out on Lester, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien. Apparently, they will not be able to afford him.

So that leaves three main options for Lester: the Cubs, Red Sox and Giants. In terms of ranking the three, Buster Olney throws this out there:

Sounds good, sure. But I’m not quite ready to fully jump on board and think of the Cubs as the front-runner. Heyman says the Giants have pitcher Tim Hudson helping with the Lester recruitment (the two are friends). He also mentions that two more teams will be meeting with Lester later this week. Could one be the Yankees?

Bruce Levine reports, however, that the Giants will be the final serious team to meet with Lester.

Tom wrote yesterday that the Cubs may be willing to go a seventh year for Lester. I believe I’d be willing to do that if that’s what it takes. I would certainly prefer the seventh year to have the vesting option, but even if it’s guaranteed, I think I’d do it.

Ultimately, I look forward to a decision, one way or the other. Then we’ll get to obsess about some other pitchers.

Arbitration-eligible Cubs

The Cubs are expected to tender contracts to all 10 of their arbitration-eligible players before Tuesday night’s deadline, according to Jesse Rogers. This includes Travis Wood, who had a very disappointing 2014.

Rogers writes that even though Wood will be tendered a contract, the Cubs may decide to move one of their left-handed starters in a trade this winter. The Cubs also have Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront on the roster.

If the Cubs can get some value for Wood, should they trade him? He’s only 27 and a year removed from a great season. It’s a tough call. I like Wood, but there’s no denying he was awful this year. It may be time to cut ties before things get worse.

Other notes

* The Orioles reportedly have “less than a 50-50 chance” of signing Nick Markakis, according to the Baltimore Sun. Earlier in the offseason, it sounded like Markakis would be returning to Baltimore. So now, maybe the Cubs will now take an interest in the outfielder. He would provide a left-handed bat with on-base skills and playoff experience. I think it’s worth at least looking into.

* Ken Rosenthal writes that the Nationals may be “picking a fight” with outfielder Bryce Harper over an opt-out clause in his contract. Rosenthal wonders why the Nats wouldn’t simply allow Harper to opt out and enter the arbitration system, or sign a new long-term deal. However, he feels both scenarios are unlikely. Seems odd to me as well that the Nationals would be willing to “battle” with the very talented 22-year-old.

* The Braves are unsure whether they’ll tender a contract to lefty reliever James Russell, according to Mark Bowman. Russell, who was was acquired from the Cubs last July, wasn’t the best against left-handed hitters in 2014: they batted .284 and had an OBP of .351 against him, Bowman said.

* Former Cub Carlos Pena will be joining MLB Network. Pena hit 28 home runs for the Cubs in 2011 and had himself a pretty decent season that year. Good for him, on the new gig.

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