Could the Atlanta Braves pursue Jon Lester?


In mid-November, the Atlanta Braves employ exactly two starting pitchers that are “locks” to be deployed in the 2015 starting rotation. Both Alex Wood and Julio Teheran have emerged as up-and-coming superstars in the rotation, but aside from that duo, the Braves have no “penciled-in” options after Ervin Santana declined a qualifying offer, Mike Minor struggled through the 2014 season and Aaron Harang saw his contract expire. With that in mind, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports penned a short column about a potential target for Atlanta, and that target’s name is Jon Lester.

Here is a snippet from Rosenthal’s piece:

"Lester, 31, lives in Sharpsburg, Ga., outside Atlanta. The Braves need starting pitching. And if they clear enough payroll — something they actively are trying to do — then their entire approach to the offseason could change.The Braves indeed have touched base with Lester’s representatives, according to major-league sources. Their contact might only be a matter of due diligence. But they would be foolish to outright ignore a local resident, no?"

To be fair, there is no “report” of real buzz on either side here, but Rosenthal’s assertion that the Braves could emerge as a “dark horse” for Lester isn’t that far-fetched. The club could potentially create roster flexibility by ridding themselves of B.J. Upton‘s contract (by any means necessary), and with a new ballpark on the horizon in 2017, it would be very nice to see a pitcher of Jon Lester’s caliber alongside the “young guns” in Wood and Teheran.

Is this a likely scenario? Probably not. Jon Lester will command a contract that reaches the nine-figure range over the life of the deal, and that would appear to be too rich for John Hart‘s blood. Still, the 30-year-old Lester tossed 219.2 innings with a 2.46 ERA (in the American League, no less) during the 2014 season, and it is nice to dream of that type of arm in the Braves rotation.

There have been reports that John Hart and company haven’t even decided if they want to “rebuild” or “compete” during the 2015 season, but if they choose the option to invest in the present, Jon Lester would look pretty good in navy blue and red.