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Red Sox offer on table for Jon Lester

BOSTON -- The Red Sox made a contract offer to free-agent pitcher Jon Lester when he met with the team's owners earlier this week and are also preparing to make an offer to free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, according to major league sources.

Terms of the offer to Lester were not disclosed, and a source said he did not expect the left-hander to make a quick decision.

Lester's agent, Seth Levinson, would not comment on negotiations with his client other than to say the Red Sox "extended great respect to Jon." Still to be determined, of course, is whether that respect was sufficient to induce the pitcher to return to Boston.

Sandoval arrived in Boston on Monday and spent Tuesday at Fenway Park meeting with Red Sox brass. The Red Sox did not make an offer to Sandoval during their meetings but are preparing to make one at some point Wednesday, according to a source.

The Red Sox, who have made signing the 28-year-old Sandoval one of their top offseason priorities, are seen as the biggest threat to the incumbent San Francisco Giants for his services. The Kung Fu Panda played a huge role in the Giants' 2012 and 2014 title runs, but the team did not discourage him from testing his value on the free-agent market.

Fox Sports is reporting that Sandoval's representatives will speak with the Giants by telephone Wednesday.

The Red Sox have the financial flexibility under the luxury tax threshold to handle a price tag of at least $90 million that Sandoval may be wearing. But given the weight issues that have saddled Sandoval since 2010, the club isn't expected to display much enthusiasm for the six-year deal that agent Gustavo Vasquez said his client wants. There are ways to get around that hurdle, such as an option for the sixth year that vests with a certain number of plate appearances.

Lester met with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday and was scheduled to meet with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney.

The Toronto Blue Jays also have interest, according to another major league source, while ESPN's Jim Bowden says the St. Louis Cardinals have expressed interest. The New York Yankees could surface as another bidder.

Lester rejected the four-year, $70 million offer made by the Red Sox in mid-March and then rejected the team's overtures to reopen negotiations during the season.

The Red Sox traded Lester at the July 31 deadline to Oakland for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but at the time both the Red Sox and Lester expressed some hope that a return might be in the offing.

Lester, who turns 31 in January and is arguably coming off the best season of his career, is expected to command a contract for at least six years, with projections in the $130 million to $150 million range.

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