Dodgers finally enter Jon Lester sweepstakes

It’s about damn time. A month after free agency, the Dodgers have finally expressed interest in perhaps the most valuable free agent available — Jon Lester.

From the report:

“One industry source was under the impression that the Dodgers had already entered the bidding with an offer to Lester, while another characterized the Dodgers as poised to play a role similar to the one made by the Yankees in December 2008, when New York swooped in late to sign Mark Teixeira away from other interested bidders with a high bid of eight years and $180 million. A third noted of the Dodgers’ potential interest that Lester “could help any team looking to win championships,” the unquestioned bar for a Los Angeles team that is after its first title since 1988.”

Apparently, this is more real than a 14-year-old and some guy tweeting Lester is going to the Cubs. Ken Rosenthal was able to confirm the report.

What’s funny is Peter Gammons tweeted about a #mysteryteam being in on Lester. Many joked and said it was the Dodgers. It appears that joke was based in reality.

This makes way too much sense for it not to happen. Lester is coming off his best season as a pro (2.46 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 9/0 K/9, 6.1 WAR) and, what separates him in my book from Max Scherzer, he doesn’t require the Dodgers to forfeit their first-round draft pick. As a prospect hound, that excites me more than it really should.

Apologies for the Tony, but I’ve been wanting the Dodgers to go after Lester since before free agency began. It appears I was about 10 days too early on this.

I’m still not 100 percent this is real, but it’s still fun.

There are other reasons this potential move makes a ton of sense. First, Lester strengthens the Dodgers’ rotation and makes it the clear-cut best in the league. A 1-2-3-4 of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Lester and Hyun-Jin Ryu cannot be equaled or beaten. Second, the Dodgers don’t have to give up any prospects and/or young players to get him, unlike one Cole Hamels. Also, Ryu missed about three weeks of action on two occasions in his second season, while Lester has seven straight seasons of at least 191 2/3 innings pitched. The “small-market” Giants also apparently have interest in Lester, and the Dodgers nabbing him would prevent that from happening. But perhaps the reason it makes the most sense is the fact Greinke can opt out of his current contract after the 2015 season. He has been “bothered” by his elbow a couple times in his Dodger tenure, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his numbers. He was even better in 2014 than he was in 2013. If Greinke does opt out and the Dodgers, somehow, can’t retain him, they won’t lose much sliding Lester into the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

The Dodgers were interested in Lester at the trade deadline, but nothing ever truly materialized. There were rumblings of some sort of Matt Kemp-for-Lester deal, but that fell by the wayside pretty quickly.

I’d be all for the Dodgers giving Lester a Greinke deal: 6 years, $147 million. Seeing as his price tag could reach $150 million over those six years — and the Dodgers are late to the party on Lester — it might take a few extra shekels to land him. I say do it. There is no better way to spend $140-plus million on the free agent market this winter. Lester is nails in the postseason as well, as he sports a 2.57 ERA in 84 career playoff innings. He also has two World Series rings to show for his performance.

I know most thought the Dodgers weren’t looking to make a huge splash this offseason — I certainly wasn’t. And they haven’t. But the fact they’re even entertaining Lester, let along making a “serious” push for him, is music to my ears. It should be to everyone else’s, too. Unless this is an elaborate rouse to increase Lester’s future contract by his agent. If so, well played, agent (translation: get bent).

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.