The Rundown: Lester Decision Expected Today, Cubs Close to Miguel Montero Trade? White Sox Likely Getting Samardzija, Robertson

Today should be the day.

According to Buster Olney and other reports, Jon Lester will be making his decision today. Finally. I’m about done with Lester rumors, and just want him to make his choice already.

But now, will he come to the Cubs? Here are some Lester bullets from yesterday:

* First, Ken Rosenthal caused a bit of a surprise when he said Lester is either going to the Cubs or Giants. Throughout this pursuit, I’ve tempered my expectations for the Cubs, but if it’s truly between them and Giants, I think that boosts my confidence a bit. Nothing against the Giants, who have a great organization, but I’ve definitely been more worried about the Red Sox and Dodgers lately.

* Not so fast … Gordon Edes and  Rob Bradford both chimed in, saying reports that the Red Sox were out on Lester were “absolutely untrue.” Red Sox manager John Farrell met with the media last night and told WEEI that the Red Sox “are still confident” they can sign Lester. So, skepticism easing back in for me.

* Then came a fun report from Jerry Crasnick that the Yankees can’t be counted out. After a moment of panic, it seems like this doesn’t really have legs. A week or two ago, I was fearing the Yankees, but I don’t think they’re a factor at this stage. (Ultimate jinx??)

* Jon Heyman says Lester has received six- and seven-year offers. Are the Cubs one of the seven-year offers?

* The real stomach-churner came last night from Ken Rosenthal, however:

Great, now my hopes are up and fighting mightily with my rock-steady skepticism. This statement shows the gravity of the Jon Lester signing for the Cubs and what it would mean for this offseason. What would constitute a “big” bat? Justin Upton? Matt Kemp?

Possible Miguel Montero to Cubs trade

As referenced in the tweet above, the Cubs are working on a deal for Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, and Rosenthal says a deal appears to be getting closer.

A source tells Patrick Mooney the Cubs won’t be parting with players who are close to the big leagues — so most likely some A-level prospects.

Montero would provide a left-handed bat and would take more walks than Welington Castillo. He’s also probably a better pitch-caller and framer.

The price doesn’t seem too steep, but I still don’t love the idea of acquiring Montero. Although, I’m not exactly a big Castillo fan either. Montero’s hitting has fallen off over the past couple years, and his personality might rub people the wrong way.

But maybe a deal is not as close as it sounds? Jerry Crasnick says the Cubs and D-Backs have had discussions, but a deal may not be close.

If a deal is eventually made it’ll be interesting to see if the Cubs decide to platoon the two catchers, or try to move Castillo in a trade.

White Sox are doing things

Jeff Samardzija is close to being traded to the White Sox, according to Jon Heyman.  (He later tweeted that the deal was agreed to.)

Jeff Passan says infielder Marcus Semien likely would be heading to the A’s in the exchange, as well as prospects. Without knowing the other prospects, this seems like a light return.

However, I don’t think it’s fair to say Billy Beane basically traded Addison Russell for Semien. The A’s went all in when they traded for Samardzija. If they had won the World Series last year, it definitely changes the perspective. And Shark was not the reason for the A’s not winning a World Series.

Thinking about Samardzija on the White Sox…man that would be a really dangerous starting rotation, with Chris Sale, Shark, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Carlos Rodon. Yikes.

Late last night, Bob Nightengale reported that the White Sox have signed top free-agent reliever David Robertson for four years, and more than $40 million. They sure aren’t messing around. However, I feel big contracts for relief pitchers is always a risky proposition. We’ll see if it works out.

If the Samardzija deal does go through, the Sox become a lot more interesting. It should really be a fun summer of baseball in Chicago next season.

Other notes

* The Red Sox and Rangers have made offers to free-agent pitcher Justin Masterson, according to Jon Heyman. Earlier, Heyman said the Cubs may meet with Masterson during the Winter Meetings. The pitcher is looking to take a flier with a team in hopes of proving he can return to form. As I’ve said before, I’d like the Cubs to take a chance on him.

* The deal for pitcher Jason Hammel — which is not official yet — is reportedly for two years and $18 million, with a $12 million club option, writes Patrick Mooney. This seems like a great deal to me. If the Cubs can have Hammel as their third or fourth starter, then I’m getting excited about their starting rotation. It’s all going to hinge on what happens with Jon Lester, however.

* Infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist could be available for trade from the Rays, tweets Ken Rosenthal. Joe Maddon is familiar with him, and I’m sure he’d figure out a way to be able to fit him into the lineup, while playing many different positions. It would be fun to watch.

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