Nothing is official until Jon Lester actually signs a new contract, but the latest reports have the Red Sox and Dodgers out of the running for the free agent's services, leaving Lester to choose between the Cubs and the Giants. At least, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal is saying as much: WEEI's Rob Bradford spoke to Lester's agent, who said the report is "absolutely untrue", while Scott Lauber reports the Red Sox have not been notified that they are out of it.
This will require some unpacking, so bear with me for a moment before your Lester Emotions get any more out of sorts. Let's start with the optimistic route to get you into a better frame of mind, okay?
Jon Lester, at present, has offers from the Cubs and Giants that trump anything the Red Sox and Dodgers have presented. The "late change" Ken Rosenthal speaks of could come from the Sox jumping up their own offer to match whatever is coming out of Chicago and/or San Francisco, getting themselves right back into the mix. That's why the Cubs and Giants aren't truly the two finalists, as Lester's agent Seth Levinson said they are not, and why the Sox have not been notified they are out of it. In this scenario, the Red Sox still have a chance to bring Lester back, so long as they do what's needed in the time they have left.
By that, we mean hit the specific price Lester and his agents have devised for the Sox. They're into that sort of negotiation style, you know. Plus, the Red Sox are set to meet with Lester on Monday night, according to Sean McAdam, and presumably Lester didn't delay his decision without intentions of meeting with the Dodgers this week, either.
Now, for the dose of unwanted reality. Remember when Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox was all but finished, and reports flew out from everywhere that the Giants had no idea about that, were still hopeful to retain him, and Panda's agent cautioned much more loudly than anyone else that negotiations weren't over even as Sandoval was buying plane tickets to Boston? Go back up a few paragraphs, insert Sandoval's name where applicable, and then come back down here to pout with the rest of us when you realize what all of this could mean.
The Red Sox aren't out of the Lester negotiations, unless they are. They have another chance to make that convincing offer to bring Lester back, unless they've already missed that opportunity. We know a little more than we did earlier Monday afternoon, unless we don't. Regardless of which side of things turns out to be true, we'll know our answer sometime on Tuesday at the latest.