If Giants lose on Lester, there's Hamels, Scherzer, Liriano, Santana

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants, while very serious about their pursuit of star free agent pitcher Jon Lester, are looking at possible alternative plans in case they fall short, including Cole Hamels, Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano and of course the other major free-agent pitchers, Max Scherzer and James Shields.

Hamels has been connected to the Dodgers, Red Sox and Cubs, but the Giants would be an interesting team for Hamels, as well. San Francisco has determined that rotation is their real area of need now, though they obviously need a third baseman to replace the beloved, departed Pablo Sandoval, and also an outfielder.

The Giants likely understand they aren't necessarily the favorite in the Lester derby. Lester didn't meet with all interested teams, so the Giants, on the West Coast, did well to make it into the final four, and they should never be counted out. But they are wise to look into a next group of options.

With the Red Sox and Cubs seen as the favorites for Lester (and the Dodgers in the best position to blow him away financially, if they so desire), the Giants are wise to line up some alternative plans.

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