6 years/ $155 million. That’s what Jon Lester signed for last night when he announced his decision to go to the Cubs. It wasn’t a Lebron-esque decision, there weren’t camera crews surrounding his house, Brian Windhorst wasn’t examining his stool checking to see if there were any hints as to where he was going. It wasn’t the top story of Sportcenter every day and it wasn’t something that needed to be announced in a prime time special. However, us people who love baseball, and those in the baseball community knew the significance of this signing.
Lester was the Golden Goose, the top prize of this years class. He’s a top 5 pitcher in baseball with the ability to completely change the outlook of a teams rotation, and their chances for the upcoming season. So when Lester’s people said that he’d be announcing his choice sometime on Tuesday (technically it was Wednesday) the three teams in hot pursuit (Cubs, Giants, Red Sox) all anxiously awaited his decision. First, early in the evening he told the Giants that he wouldn’t be playing ball in San Fran next season (which I think is idiotic, but I’ll get to that), leading to the best quote of the night from Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans who said “We didn’t get a rose”. Then there were two. Boston and Chicago. The team who he became the ace on, or reuniting with Theo Epstein the team president of the Cubs.
I never thought that Lester was going to go back to Boston. I don’t think he had any reason to. He didn’t owe them anything. In fact, I think they should’ve been eliminated earlier on in the process. They screwed him over. They low balled him with a contract extension, then traded him away, expected him to come crawling back to the last place team in the AL East last year, and then in free agency when it was time for a bidding war, they low balled him again. My theory is that Lester just strung the Red Sox along like LeBron did with the Cavs. He never had any intention of going back there, but he didn’t want people to hate him. If that’s the case then he did a terrific job. The final offers to Lester were the Giants at 7 years/$168 million (24 mil per year), and the Red Sox at 6 years/$135 million (22.5 mil per year). Here’s how it affects the league
- In a way, the Red Sox and Giants got let off the hook. deals like these for pitchers are INSANE. You don’t have to look far into history to see how these contracts always backfire on these clubs toward the end. Johan Santana, six-year, $137.5 million contract, any Mets fan reading this knows how that played out. We paid 137.5 million for a no-hitter, that’s it. He broke down not two years after he signed the deal. CC Sabathia, seven-year, $161 million contract. The yankees are in the middle of their contract hell. Sabathia is nowhere near the pitcher he was at the start of the deal and he has trouble putting together an entire season at this point. Barry Zito, seven years, $126 million contract. Zito was a perennial all star, a Cy Young winner, came to San Francisco on the big deal and flopped. I personally think Tanaka’s 7 year $155 million contract is going to come back to bite the Yankees in the ass, but only time will tell. Don’t give pitchers big contracts, it kills you down the line.
- The Cubs want to win NOW. They hired Joe Maddon, one of the best managers in baseball, their young prospects are just about ready to burst out. They have one of the best power hitters in the NL in Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro is a great shortstop who they will never that to the Mets, Javy Biaz looks like he could be the real deal. They’re young, they have talent, they have a very good manager, the Cubs could make some moves this year.
- I don’t understand why Jon Lester didn’t go to San Francisco. They’re the reigning world series champs, a Bumgarner/Lester 1-2 punch would be unstoppable, especially in the playoffs. The contracts were almost identical and if I were Lester, this is going to be your last big contract, take as long of a deal as you can. Milk the Giants out of all 7 years.
Overall, this is a historic contract, and it just shows how inflated the free agency market is getting. It actually makes me crazy nervous for when Matt Harvey wins the next 4 Cy Young awards and he gets $350 million on the open market.
BTW- Smokeshow alert for Lester’s wife