(most assuredly the wrong Lester)

From the Seattle Times’ Bob Finnegan :

An East Coast source said the Mariners are offering pitcher Gil Meche as well as center fielder Jeremy Reed, in an effort to obtain one of Boston’s prized pitching prospects, Jon Lester (a Puyallup native) or Jonathan Papelbon, in a trade.

Boston began the talks when it became apparent it would lose center fielder Johnny Damon. In its initial inquiry about Reed, Boston was believed to have talked about giving hard-throwing Matt Clement, who will make $19 million over the next two seasons.

Since signing left-hander Jarrod Washburn to a $38 million contract, Seattle has focused on sinker-baller Bronson Arroyo in recent discussions since he made only $1.85 million in 2005 and is arbitration eligible and under club control for three more years.

“It might be tough to get Lester or Papelbon,” a National League scout said. “Every team who has talked to the Sox about a deal has asked for one of them.”

While the Mariners are said to be more proactive in pushing a trade with Boston, they apparently are down on the Red Sox’s dance card.

The Sox, in need of a shortstop as well as a center fielder, are reportedly focused on a multi-player deal with Tampa Bay, trying to land shortstop Julio Lugo and outfielder Joey Gathright.

The Kansas City Star’s Jeff Passan reports the Royals will host one of the World Baseball Classic’s Group A qualifiers —- Korea, China or Japan — in a March 8 exhibition in Surprise, AZ. There’s a whole ‘nuther continent dying to get a first glimpse of Doug Mientkiewicz in a K.C. uniform, apparently.

The Nationals have agreed upon a one-year deal with righthander Ramon Ortiz (source, the Associated Press).

Whoever is handling Frank McCourt’s public relations needs a raise. Either that, or an online petition convincing he or she not to kill themselves.