Could rumored Blue Jays interest in Jon Lester top Russell Martin news?


The Toronto Blue Jays through a big ripple into the free agent landscape on Monday morning when they came to a 5-year, $82 million deal with catcher Russell Martin, putting the rest of Major League Baseball on notice that they are going to be major players on the hot stove this winter. According to the rumors that followed, that could be an understatement.

According to Rob Bradford of WEEI, the Blue Jays “remain as one of the six clubs to continue to show legitimate interest in free agent pitcher Jon Lester” and Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair indicated that Toronto is heavily in pursuit of reliever Andrew Miller as well. Either one would be a coup for a team that up until this morning had refused to hand out major contracts under the Alex Anthopoulos regime.

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But maybe we should pump the breaks just a little bit.

While we heard over the weekend about Andrew Miller being tied to the Blue Jays, the Lester news is a bit new to these parts, but not entirely unheard of. The Blue Jays were rumored to be aggressive on the Jon Lester front at the trade deadline last season, before he was eventually dealt to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes.

It would stand to reason that the team would love to see Jon Lester bring his 116-67 record, 3.58 ERA, 3.58 FIP, and career 8.2 K/9 ratio to Toronto and become the ace of the Blue Jays staff. Additionally, Lester owns a pretty swell 3.47 career ERA and a 8.8 K/9 ratio in 17 starts and 111.2 innings of work while pitching at Rogers Centre. Granted, that all came at the expense of rather mediocre Blue Jays teams and not the rest of the AL East in our building.

However, considering that the Blue Jays just stretched the market for Martin, do you really think they’ll come out of their shell and commit the 6-years, $150 million that Lester is rumored to be commanding this winter? It seems doubtful that Toronto would make such a move without a dramatic shift in team policy. Gregor Chisholm at seems to be of a similar mindset in that regard.

There are creative ways to make this happen. The acquisition of Russell Martin has led some to question whether Dioner Navarro may be made expendable rather than simply sliding him into a DH role. However, there have been some brave enough to question whether the Blue Jays would entertain not only moving Josh Thole but also R.A. Dickey. Finding a taker for Dickey would instantly create a rotation spot and clear $12 million in his last guaranteed year.

That said, Jon Lester stands to draw a significant amount of interest on the free agent market and some foolish team, whether it be the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago Cubs, is bound to guarantee him those six years and probably seven. The Blue Jays five year and possibly an option doesn’t necessarily get it done there.

For now, we can sit back and take it one victory with the Russell Martin signing, and let the Jon Lester rumors shake out where they may.