By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) -- The Cubs will roll out the red carpet for left-handed Jon Lester early next week. He will visit the Cubs and Wrigley Field for a formal get-together with the Cubs brass and owner Tom Ricketts, sources told 670 The Score. The free agent pitcher is being courted by numerous clubs, including his original team, Boston.
The price of poker to acquire Lester will be high, possibly reaching five to six years at $22 million-plus per season. Traded to Oakland at the deadline in 2014, Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA lifetime. Lester was originally a second-round pick in the 2002 amateur draft, and he'll turn 31 in January.
Lester had the best season of his career in 2014, going 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 220 strikeouts in 219 2/3 innings. The Cubs have made clear that they are searching for a No. 1 starter this offseason.
The Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are close personal friends of Lester from their time in Boston. Lester is coming off a six-year, $42.75-million deal he signed with Boston when Epstein was the GM.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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