The Red Sox offered $120 million to Jon Lester over six years earlier this offseason. It seemed like $120 million wasn't going to be enough to get it done, but the six years was a positive sign that showed the Red Sox were serious about bringing Lester back. They'll likely have to raise that money up for sure now, as the Cubs have reportedly submitted an offer "north of" $135 million over six years to Lester, according to CSN Chicago's David Kaplan.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean Lester is going to Chicago. Yes, $135 million is the highest reported offer, and yes, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod are all former Red Sox front office personnel who are running the Cubs. That doesn't mean the Cubs are the Red Sox, though, either on or off the field. The Cubs still have their own set of questions when it comes to figuring out when they'll legitimately contend, and while Joe Maddon has a reputation as a great manager, for all we know Lester would prefer returning to John Farrell if it came down to something like that. Plus, beating out or matching an offer of $135 million (or $140 million, or whatever "north of" actually comes down to) shouldn't be all that difficult for the Red Sox. The difference between $140 million per year and $120 million per year is an extra $2.3 million per season. The Sox can do that if it's all that stands between them and getting Lester, especially when losing him means talking to the Phillies seriously about Cole Hamels in a deal that will cost them real, live prospects.
The Sox aren't just facing off against the Cubs for Lester's services, however. The Cardinals are reportedly meaning him next week, as we mentioned on Monday, and the Giants are now set to meet him next week as well, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. Kaplan mentioned that the Giants' interest was not "cursory" -- they have the money and the need, especially now that a certain expensive third baseman has been taken away from them and the market thanks to Boston.