San Francisco Giants

Giants lose out on Lester, but still focused on starting pitching

SAN DIEGO -- Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans met with reporters around 6 p.m. Tuesday, and said that a half-hour earlier the Giants had received a call from Jon Lester. The message: Lester, the prized free-agent left-hander, was no longer considering San Francisco as a destination.

"We did not receive a rose," Evans said.

Evans said the Giants during the day had gotten the sense Lester was feeling the pull of some "pretty strong ties" with two of his other suitors. Those are ostensibly Boston -- where Lester has spent most of his career -- and the Chicago Cubs -- whose front office includes former Boston executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

Around 5:30 p.m., their suspicions were confirmed. So the Giants’ focus now shifts away from Lester -- to whom Evans said they made "multiple offers" -- but not away from the starting rotation. Evans said "starting pitching still remains a priority" for the Giants, who have one open spot in their rotation for 2015.

The next biggest names on the free agent market are Max Scherzer and James Shields. Evans declined to address specific names but said: "Anybody’s a consideration. Everyone we’ve talked to is going to be hearing from us, and will hear in greater detail what our thoughts are."

The Giants had made it clear that Lester was their top and only priority until his decision came through. As a result, Evans said, no other deals are imminent and, "I think anything else would take a little bit of time to come together."

Third base remains a need, while the Giants are also exploring options for left field and the bullpen. In left, Evans said the Giants would not rule out the possibility of acquiring a right-handed hitter who could platoon with Gregor Blanco. Evans said the Giants have been in touch with free agent Michael Morse, but that Morse would be more of an every day type player.

Evans said free agents Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong are also aware they’re on the list of potential rotation solutions, but that list has "a lot of guys," and the Giants are "really just determining who the first, second and third guys are -- really in the early discussion stage."

What the Lester decision does is allow the Giants to reassess their priorities and enter into more concrete discussions with other free agents and teams. Financially, Lester would’ve been a big commitment in the long run, but Evans said the Giants’ contract offers were structured in a way that would still have left them some flexibility to address other needs for next season.

Ultimately, Lester opted against calling San Francisco home in 2015 -- just as Pablo Sandoval did several weeks ago. The Giants this week were also said to have been considered by Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who signed with Arizona. So Evans was asked about the Giants "finishing second" in the bidding for all these big-name players this offseason.

"We finished first in the most important area, though," Evans said, "in October."

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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