San Francisco Giants’ Case for the Jon Lester Sweepstakes


With Pablo Sandoval departing to the Boston Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants have a decision to make in terms of how they would like to spend their money on free agents. A free agent that would benefit the Giants the most, at the moment, would be starting pitcher Jon Lester. Although Lester had told the media that he would re-sign with the Red Sox after this year, he is keeping an open mind as to where he would like to play.

It was reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney the left-hander met with Giants on Monday to discuss an offer. However, Lester has already been offered a six-year, $120-million contract from the Red Sox and reportedly been given an offer from the Chicago Cubs of $135 million over six years.  Lester has also talked to the Atlanta Braves as well as the St. Louis Cardinals, but both teams decided not offer him a contract because of his price tag.

So the Giants have some stiff competition in the Lester pool and will need to make a significant offer if they want a chance at signing him.

Although the Cubs are probably an unlikely destination for Lester, it is still an option for him to consider in free agency.

However, Boston is looking like a primary option for Lester with the recent signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, providing the Red Sox with an adequate lineup that could includes Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes, Sandoval and Ramirez.

Aug 13, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Angel Pagan (16) reacts after scoring a run against the Chicago White Sox during the seventh inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While all that sounds nice and dandy, the Giants also have a lot to offer, despite losing Sandoval. Many people forget that next year starting pitcher Matt Cain and the Giants’ usual leadoff man Angel Pagan will return. Pagan and Cain’s level of playing may take some time to be perfected, but they are still major assets that the team has been missing for far too long.

They also have a promising second baseman in Joe Panik, who hit .305 in the regular season collecting 82 hits and 18 RBI’s in 73 games played. Of course, there are the fan favorites Buster PoseyHunter Pence and Brandon Belt, who have all been key components to the Giants organization since they joined the team.

Posey, who has trophies and World Series rings to show for, in 2010 was named NL Rookie of the year. In 2012, he won NL MVP to go with his Silver Slugger Award in the NL for the catching position, was the NL batting champion, was the NL Comeback Player of the Year and finally earned himself the NL Hank Aaron award. This past season, Posey once again won the Silver Slugger Award for the catching position.

And who can argue with three World Series championships in the last five years? The Giants are a playoff caliber team, as well as a championship caliber team. Lester likes the big stage and the bright lights, so going to the Giants would be a viable option for him.

What Lester could bring to the Giants is that one-two punch in the starting rotation that the Giants lacked for the better part of last season, due to injuries and Tim Lincecum getting sent to the bullpen.

Oct 31, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher

Madison Bumgarner

waves to the crowd during the World Series celebration at City Hall. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals in game seven of the World Series. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Lester, last season with the Red Sox and the Oakland Athletics, posted a 16-11 record with a 2.46 ERA, 1.10WHIP and 220 strikeouts. In Lester’s nine-year career, he has had six seasons with at least 15 wins, and a WHIP that is under the 1.40 mark. Like Madison Bumgarner, Lester is a strikeout guy, as he has 1,457 career strikeouts. Bumgarner has played four less seasons than Lester but has achieved 896 career strikeouts in his young career.

Therefore, Lester would give a boost in the beginning of the starting rotation with Bumgarner being number one and Lester being number two. After Lester the order can be Cain, Tim Hudson and have Yusmeiro Petit or Lincecum be the final spot in the rotation.

Not only does Lester provide a quality arm in the rotation, he also has five years of postseason experience that includes two World Series rings from 2007 and 2013 with the Red Sox. Lester has a decent record in postseason play of 6-4, with  a 2.57 ERA, 1.07WHIP and 73 strikeouts. Once again, like Bumgarner, he does best in the World Series. Lester, in World Series games, is 3-0 with a 0.43ERA, 0.762WHIP and 18 strikeouts.

Should the Giants reach the playoffs again in 2015, the Giants would have a more reliable second starting option than the team did this past season with the addition of Lester.

Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher

Jon Lester

(31) throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning of the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

All in all, Lester seems like a perfect fit for the Giants, but to sign him will be costly and the Giants still have holes to fill at third base and left field. Should Lester sign with the Giants, they should then use the money they have left to re-sign left fielder Michael Morse and relief pitcher Sergio Romo. If Lester doesn’t sign, then they should re-sign both Morse and Romo and offer free agent third baseman Chase Headley a contract.

Regardless of other needs though, Lester is the number one priority, and he would be an outstanding addition to what is already an outstanding team.