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Could Giants pivot to Jon Lester?

Pablo Sandoval has shipped up to Boston, opening up both the third-base position in San Francisco and some $20 million in the club’s annual budget for 2015-2019. But according to San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Hank Schulman, the Giants might not use their newfound financial wiggle room to replace the Panda at the hot corner:

The idea of Joaquin Arias manning third base regularly is unappealing, but it could become more palatable if it means another ace-level starter beside Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. And FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted in the wake of the Sandoval news that GM Brian Sabean could shift his attention to—among other free agents—Jon Lester.

Sabean and the Giants would be underdogs in the bidding for the top left-handed starter in the market, at least initially, because the Red Sox are interested in bringing him back after a couple of months in Oakland. In fact, Peter Gammons wrote on Monday morning that two senior-circuit GMs said a reunion between Lester and the Sox is “close to happening” and might become official before the Winter Meetings begin December 8th.

Gammons cautioned that the Yankees and Cardinals, among other clubs, could derail those plans, and adding the Giants as a possible destination further clouds the landscape. Lester’s once-frosty relationship with Hanley Ramirez also warrants a passing mention, though it’s ancient history now and might have no bearing on his decision.

…and if they sign him, would the Red Sox sell the farm for Cole Hamels?
Nonetheless, if Lester chooses the Giants or another suitor, the Red Sox will be back to square one in their search for rotation upgrades—and they need a lot of them. That explains why, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, the Phillies believe they could reel in enough young talent to make sending Cole Hamels to Boston worthwhile.

The 30-year-old might be the winter’s hottest trade commodity entering the third season of a six-year, $144 million extension signed in June 2012. He’s owed $96 million the rest of the way, including the buyout on a $20 million club option for the 2019 season, and he logged a career-best 2.46 ERA in 2014.

Names like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts would surely be in play to front the package heading south to Philly. It’s little more than speculation for now, but with Clay Buchholz penciled in as Boston’s no. 1 starter at the moment, there’s little doubt that a few more moves are in store.

Blue Jays want John Jaso from A’s
After acquiring Ike Davis from the Pirates, the Athletics have a surplus of left-handed bats. Davis, John Jaso, Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, and Stephen Vogt won’t be easy to squeeze into the lineup every day, especially if the recently signed Billy Butler is ticketed for a full-time role, so it’s not surprising that teams have reached out to Billy Beane to see if one of those bats can be plucked.

The Jays are one such buyer, and their interest lies in Jaso, whose 2014 season was cut short by a concussion, but who has reportedly recovered and should be all systems go come spring training. That includes getting back in the squat, at least part time, which is good news, because it’s the role Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos would like Jaso to play.

Susan Slusser, who covers the A’s for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote that Jaso could serve as Toronto’s backup to Russell Martin, who inked a five-year, $82 million agreement earlier this month. Adding Jaso would likely pave the way for a trade that ships Dioner Navarro back into the United States and might spell the end of Josh Thole’s stint with the Jays, too. Martin is reportedly willing to work with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, which would obviate the need to carry Thole as his personal catcher.

Oakland is said to be seeking lefty pitching prospect Sean Nolin as part of the return for Jaso, who is going into his third and final year of arbitration eligibility. He earned $2.3 million in 2014 and should see a raise to around $3.3 million, based on MLBTradeRumors’ arbitration projections.

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"Names like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts would surely be in play to front the package heading south to Philly"

That would be an egregious overpay considering the variety of other pitching options and the combination of starter-quality major leaguers and second-tier prospects the Red Sox have to deal. No way should they move either of their two top prospects to acquire Hamels. If the price for Hamels is too high, move on to your next option.

I don't feel like with Hamels on the mound in an AL playoff game, I can automatically mark that down as a win. So why deal grade-A position prospects that can start for you in 2015 for him?
Wow, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Jon Lester and Yusmeiro Petit could be a dynamite big four to lead the Giants' rotation!
Welp looks like the A's were able to pull off that Sean Nolin deal and they didn't even have to give up Jaso!