Congratulations, Theo Epstein!
You targeted a guy in free agency -- a big name, a top pitcher -- and you got him.
Jon Lester has signed a 6-year, $155 million contract to pitch for the Chicago Cubs.
Ken Rosenthal was the first with the news
Sources: Lester to #Cubs.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 10, 2014
And Jeff Passan was the first with the details on the contract.
Jon Lester, Cubs agree on six-year, $155M deal, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Red Sox are runners-up. Their final bid: six for $135M.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 10, 2014
As you can see, the Cubs outbid the Red Sox by a wide margin. That Lester took this much time making a decision shows the pull of Boston for him, but he has always said that this deal would not only be about money. Clearly Lester is comfortable with Cubs management and the direction the club is headed in.
And this move signals to the rest of Major League Baseball that the Cubs are, as Theo said at the season-ticket holder session last October, going after the N.L. Central title in 2015. Lester will top a rotation that includes Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks, all of whom had good-to-excellent 2014 seasons. The Cubs will have several pitchers to choose from to fill the No. 5 spot.
It's been a very busy week for Theo & Company, who have added two starting pitchers and Miguel Montero to be the Cubs' new starting catcher. It will be a well-revamped team that takes the field April 5 at Wrigley to face the rival St. Louis Cardinals, and for the first time since the Ricketts family bought the Cubs following the 2009 season, it appears they're positioned to contend.
There's one thing Lester will have to change as a Cub -- his uniform number. He's worn No. 31 throughout his career, but for the Cubs it's retired for Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins. And he can't reverse the digits either, as No. 13 is taken by a player (Starlin Castro) who'd have first call on it.
We'll have more analysis and reaction to this signing later, but I wanted you to have the news here to discuss.
Well done, Theo. And thanks.