Jon Lester will pitch for the Chicago Cubs in 2015. Has a nice ring to it.
After turning down the Giants $168 million, seven-year offer and a chance to return to Boston, the left-hander accepted the Cubs six-year, $155 million deal that includes a $30 million signing bonus and a no trade clause.
Lester now heads a Cubs’ rotation that includes Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, newly acquired free agent Jason Hammel and a battle for the fifth spot between Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, Dallas Beeler, Eric Jokisch and C.J. Edwards.
Shortly after the announcement in San Diego, new manager Joe Maddon chatted with the media and was excited about the addition.
“Its not often you get to win the lottery. We have won the baseball lottery so far this year,” Maddon said with a big smile on his face. “Its really exciting to be in this position. Work with a new group of people in a very vibrant city, a great core group of young players, and all of a sudden you add this kinda of a piece to that particular puzzle, its very exciting.”
Lester took to twitter Wednesday morning. “Extremely difficult decision for me and my family but we love the outcome and couldn’t be more excited to join the Cubs organization.” He also tweeted “To Red Sox Nation, I understand the disappointment. Boston will always have a big place in my heart and we’ll alway consider y’all family.”
One of the golden nuggets of the deal is the Cubs were able to add a top-of-the-rotation arm without having to give up prospects or a draft pick.
If the Cubs plan to make a run in 2015, Lester will have to live up to his contract in his 10th big league season. The left-hander relies on a four-seam fastball in the low- to mid-90s and a cutter a few ticks slower. A curve, sinker and change-up are also in his arsenal.
The Red Sox selected Lester in the second round in 2002 out of Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, Washington. After three full season in the minors, he made his MLB debut in June of 2006. A nine-year Red Sox career that included a pair of World Series titles, Lester compiled a 110-63 record and a 3.64 ERA in 1,596 innings. Lester was traded in July of 2014 to Oakland and went 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts for the A’s. A three-time all-star, Lester has appeared in 14 post-season games (6-4, 2.57 ERA) and is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in 21 World Series innings.
The signing raises the Cubs expectations for 2015, something needed after three dismal seasons at the Friendly Confines. It puts an end to the “Cubs Don’t Have Any Money” and “Cubs Can’t Get A Big Name Free Agents” narratives.
The Cubs are Coming!