The Cubs are obviously putting a lot of effort (and money) into convincing Jon Lester to spend the next six (or seven) years in blue pinstripes.
What if that effort fails? Where would they turn their attention next? In an ESPN Insider article, Buster Olney has some ideas:
Missing out on Lester would mean that the Cubs have twice tried and failed to snag a free agent target, because earlier this winter, they took a shot at Russell Martin and fell short in the bidding. A pursuit of [James] Shields would make sense given his history with Joe Maddon, and [Francisco] Liriano -- who has had a lot of success in the National League -- could be a fit, depending on the dollars.
I'm not so sure I agree with Olney's take on Shields. Shields could cost almost as much as Lester and he's two years older. Granted, he does have familiarity with Maddon, but if the Cubs are going to go that route, why not just wait a year and go after David Price?
Liriano is someone that many here have mentioned as a possible Cubs free-agent target in the past. He's about the same age as Lester (three months older) and is quite familiar with the N.L. Central, having pitched there the last two years. His injury history might be a little worrisome.
Do you like these ideas? Or do you have some of your own? Post in the comments, while we wait for Lester's decision.