SAN DIEGO — Thirty major league baseball teams have come to the southwest edge of the country to find a middle ground. Baseball’s annual winter meetings are a few days of one-stop shopping as teams check their wish lists and look to bring home the perfect gift to their fans.

Trouble is, everyone arrived in southern California hoping for the same gift. Jon Lester is the must-have prize this holiday season, and the lefty was holding up everyone else’s plans on Monday as he shopped for the best team to call home in the coming seasons.

Of course, not everyone can afford Lester. The pitcher is like a luxury car with a big red bow on it. A wonderful gift idea, but out-of-reach for most shoppers.

Competition in the Lester sweepstakes seemed to be among the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. According to media reports, he is expected make his decision no later than Tuesday – and there have been indications that the Red Sox would get the last chance to make him an offer.

Meanwhile, other teams were looking for less-expensive pitching help. Trouble is, the market for free-agent pitching was stuck in a Lester logjam. Lester’s contract will be the one that sets the bar for other available pitchers. Max Scherzer is the other big bauble available for a starting rotation, but his negotiations won’t start until he sees what Lester gets. James Shields is a great fallback option for big-budget teams, but they needed to know where they stand on Lester before they move onto the backup plan.

Even pitchers like Francisco Liriano or Justin Masterson – pitchers who will command much less money for their services – are waiting to see how high the bar is set before they sign on a dotted line.

Most teams looking for pitching will also address that need through trades. Those trades are also being held up by top free-agent signings. The Red Sox – who need starting pitching as much as anyone – will wait to see what they can buy on the open market before they start dealing prospects to bring in help.

That’s why the meetings got off to a sleepy start here in “America’s Finest City” on Monday. San Diego still felt a little like Boston West with hoards of New Englanders basking in the sun – and the glory of a come-from-behind Patriots’ win over the Chargers Sunday night. There were Brady and Gronkowski jerseys everywhere you looked.

Now our attention turns to baseball. The Sox still have a lot of work to do, needing help on multiple fronts if they are to turn things around after finishing in last place last season. They addressed the need for offense weeks ago with the additions of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Now it’s all about pitching.

With Ramirez planning to play left field, Yoenis Cespedes seems to be the most obvious outfielder to move. There were rumors of a potential trade with the Padres for pitcher Ian Kennedy. The deal would make sense since both players have one year remaining on their deals.

Yet it seems the Sox could get more for Cespedes, who could help any team looking for a little help in the outfield.

So reports that Detroit might be willing to move pitcher Rick Porcello for Cespedes are not surprising. The Tigers need an outfielder and the Sox have eight of them on the big-league roster. Porcello is coming off the best year of his career and is also entering the final year of his contract.

Chances are it would take more than just Cespedes to land the 25-year old Porcello. The Sox could give Detroit more – they’ve got plenty of prospects to make this a bigger deal.

Yet the Sox wouldn’t seem ready to make a move for a pitcher like Porcello until they know where they stand on a top free-agent pitcher. Lester, who has said he would be happy to return to Boston, was giving mixed signals on whether or not he was willing to do so for a hometown discount.

As Lester neared his decision, other business was about to get started. Thirty teams were ready to go, but needed one man to make his decision first.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.