The Boston Red Sox made a contract offer to free-agent pitcher Jon Lester when he met with the team’s owners earlier this week, according to ESPN Boston.

Terms of the offer to Lester were not disclosed, and a source told ESPN Boston he did not expect Lester to make a quick decision.

Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, would not comment on negotiations other than to say the Red Sox “extended great respect to Jon.”

Lester was expected in Chicago on Wednesday to hear his former general manager, Theo Epstein, pitch some woo to him about how he wants and needs the left-hander to lead the Cubs’ rotation and that long-suffering team into the long-promised land like the Red Sox in 2004.

There is something incongruous about how the Red Sox have launched headfirst into the Lester sweepstakes after everyone dismissed their interest in ever inking a 30-plus pitcher to a multiyear deal.

That is indeed the preference of principal owner John Henry, who can point to voluminous examples of good money devoted to bad contracts on once-good starters. Lester turns 31 in January.

What Henry cannot point to is a suitable Plan B that addresses the Sox’s dire need of a legit No. 1-type pitcher to lead the currently destitute rotation.

The Red Sox, the Braves, the Cubs, the Cardinals and maybe, just maybe, the Yankees and perhaps the Blue Jays are interested in Lester.

It’s going to take six years and $21-22 million annually to land Lester, but it will take only money to land the left-hander, not money and prospects like it would take to make a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for Cole Hamels.

 The Sox did not make an offer to free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval during their meetings Tuesday but are preparing to make one at some point Wednesday, a major league source told ESPN Boston.

Fox Sports is reporting that Sandoval’s representatives will speak with the Giants by telephone Wednesday.

 The Red Sox claimed infielder Juan Francisco off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

ATHLETICS: Billy Butler came so close to winning it all with Kansas City that it stings to be leaving his only professional team after such a special run, and with some unfinished business.

Then Oakland came calling when his old club did not, and Butler is someone who prides himself in loyalty – in this case to A’s GM Billy Beane’s persistence and interest in striking a quick deal.

The versatile Butler finalized a $30 million, three-year contract with the A’s on Wednesday. He receives a $5 million signing bonus payable by Dec. 31, a $5 million salary next year and $10 million in each of the final two seasons.

MARLINS: Giancarlo Stanton signed his record $325 million, 13-year contract with Miami at a news conference formally announcing the deal.

Stanton signed the agreement at the start of the news conference while sitting next to the owner, Jeffrey Loria.

The attendance-challenged franchise drew nearly 100 members of the media for the occasion.