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Is the Jon Lester mystery team the St. Louis Cardinals?

The Cardinals' interest in Jon Lester is officially a zombie rumor.

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The gossip about free-agent lefthander Jon Lester and the St. Louis Cardinals this Hot Stove has been a bit like a summer blockbuster: Willingly suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. Never mind that Lester will reportedly cost as much as $130 million (and probably more) over six years (or more) and general manager John Mozeliak has never signed any pitcher to a contract longer than the five-year extension to which Adam Wainwright agreed that effectively created a six-year, $109.5 million contract, Lester is being courted by a mystery team! Ignore the fact that Derrick Goold of St. Louis Post-Dispatch shot down the anonymously sourced Peter Gammons report that the Cardinals would meet with Lester in St. Louis during the week between Thanksgiving and the Winter Meetings! There's a mystery team in on Lester!

ESPN's Jayson Stark confirms what Gammons is hearing. A fourth team, operating under a mysterious veil of anonymity, has entered the Lester sweepstakes.

The final bidding on Jon Lester involves more than just the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, an official of one club in the bidding told on Wednesday.

Could the Cardinals be the mystery team? Stark's anonymous sources speculate that it's possible the Cardinals might still be interested in Lester.

The identity of the fourth team isn't known to the other clubs involved. But there is speculation among rival teams that the St. Louis Cardinals remain interested in the free-agent left-hander.

Anonymous sources, a mystery team, speculation. The Hot Stove is just the best.


Then again, maybe the mystery team is just the boring old big-spending Dodgers, as multiple sources have told Rob Bradford and Alex Speier of WEEI in Boston.

Or, as Tom Loxas of Cubs Insider tweets, it could be the Angels (who swooped in to sign Albert Pujols with a huge offer of respect).