The Cardinals join the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves as the main suitors for the pitcher's services. The 30-year-old is ranked as the offseason's No. 2 free agent by SI.com's Ben Reiter.
Lester, who was traded at July's deadline from the Boston Red Sox to the Oakland Athletics, went 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 219.2 innings in 2014.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington reportedly met with Lester's agent last week. Lester spent the first eight-plus seasons of his career with Boston, winning the World Series in 2007 and 2013.
Lester will reportedly meet with the Cubs in Chicago this week for a formal meeting with the team's brass and owner Tom Ricketts. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was Boston's GM when Lester signed a six-year deal with the Red Sox in 2008.
The Braves are scheduled to meet with Lester on Thursday, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
Lester is a three-time All-Star, including an appearance this season, and pitched a no-hitter in 2008.
- Molly Geary