Red Sox offer Lester, prepare one for Panda

Red Sox offer Lester, prepare one for Panda

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have extended an offer to lefty Jon Lester, and they are close to making one to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, sources tell MLB.com.

Those developments are significant considering that Lester and Sandoval are perhaps Boston's top two targets on the free-agent market. The Red Sox have not confirmed the offers.

The club's executives met face to face with both players in recent days to express their strong interest. They quickly made an offer to Lester and were hoping to finalize Sandoval's offer before he leaves Boston on Wednesday afternoon.

ESPNBoston.com was first to report the offer to Lester, which is believed to be for at least five years. Though terms of the offer were not disclosed, it is believed to be far more substantial than the four-year, $70 million pact the Sox offered Lester back in March. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, citing a Major League source, reported that the offer to Lester falls into the $110-120 million range over six years.

Sandoval is reportedly seeking an offer somewhere in the neighborhood of five years at $90 million.

The third baseman flew to Boston on Monday afternoon and met with the Red Sox on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and the club was in the process of "readying" its offer to him, according to csnne.com.

Lester met with the Cubs on Tuesday, a situation that is intriguing due to the fact that Theo Epstein -- the longtime general manager of the Red Sox -- is the Cubs' president of baseball operations.

The lefty will meet with the Braves on Thursday, another situation that bears watching considering Lester has a home in the Atlanta area.

Before Lester was traded from the Red Sox to the Athletics last July, he expressed a desire to sign a long-term deal in Boston, and he said that he wouldn't necessarily need the top offer on the market to do so.

The 2014 season was a strong one for Lester, as he went 16-11 with a career-best 2.46 ERA.

Sandoval, a switch-hitter, would give the Red Sox another productive bat in their quest to rebound from their severe offensive woes of 2014. The fact he would take the majority of his at-bats from the left side would also make him a good fit, considering Boston's lineup is currently dominated by right-handed hitters.

Boston's primary competition in signing Sandoval appears to the Giants. Sandoval has spent his entire career with San Francisco, helping that franchise win the World Series three times in the last five seasons. As is always the case in free agency, other teams could emerge.

The 28-year-old Sandoval is a career .294 hitter, with 106 homers, 462 RBIs and a .346/.465/.811 line.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.