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Gammons: Jon Lester to meet with Cardinals next week

The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to meet with free agent pitcher Jon Lester next week, according to baseball journalist Peter Gammons.

It was suggested that the free agent pitcher who performed at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals in the 2011 World Series, would like to make a decision on where he'll play in 2015 and beyond by the time of the Winter Meetings the first week in December.

Gammons and others say that the Red Sox have made their former hurler an offer in the $110-$120 million range for five years. Reports also indicate that the San Francisco Giants might be joining the Lester derby now that their former third baseman has spurned a contract offer to accept a more lucrative deal from Boston.

The Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and New York Yankees are other teams speculated to be interested in the lefty hurler.

No word on if the Cardinals have any plans to speak with the representatives of the other top pitcher on the free agent market, native St. Louisan Max Scherzer.

It would seem if Gammons is correct about Lester's time frame it could prevent the Redbirds from trying to make a play for Scherzer. The latter's agent, Scott Boras, typically likes to draw out negotiations in order to try to drive up the price as much as possible for his clients. St. Louis brass may feel that they have to make an honest effort for Lester, despite Scherzer being a sentimental favorite, because if they don't get the southpaw, they could end up with nothing.

Of course, that assumes that the team's interest is genuine. They could just be tire kicking in hopes that the market for Lester won't take off and hope to pick up a top pitcher at a discounted price.

But, with the injuries the Cardinals faced in 2014 to Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garica plus John Lackey's advancing age, I think it makes sense for the team to invest in a durable front of the rotation pitcher.

Even if Wainwright, Wacha and Lackey stay healthy, the team could always use another top arm for the pennant race and playoffs. And it would be doubly good to keep a top pitcher out of Chicago as the Cubs try to evolve from Central Division doormats into an up and coming team.