Jon Lester spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time as a member of the Washington Nationals.
This comment piqued my interest:
Jon Lester is all class. Said he told Tom Ricketts that he was ‘grateful’ the team wanted him back in 2015. Should be other way around. Meanwhile, he would have played for just about anything in ‘21 and deferred the rest but team said no.— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) January 27, 2021
I had to read that several times to make sure I understood it.
“Meanwhile, he would have played for just about anything in ‘21 and deferred the rest but team said no.”
Seriously? Like, Lester might have played for the minimum salary with an unspecified amount deferred? Okay, maybe that’s being a little simplistic about it, but if that is the case, I can’t see why the Cubs wouldn’t have been able to pay Lester (say) $1 million, which wouldn’t have dented the payroll (or luxury tax) too much and pay him more later.
Presuming this is true — and coming directly from Jon Lester I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t be — this tells you exactly where Cubs ownership and management stands, as we are three weeks... or probably more... to the beginning of Spring Training.
You have probably seen this:
MLB Off-Season Spending, by division to date:— Matt Whitener (@CheapSeatFan) January 26, 2021
AL East: $307M
NL East: $143M
AL Central: $124M
NL West: $98M
AL West: $83M
NL Central: $3.7M
7 teams (STL, PIT, ARI, COL, BAL, CLE) with either zero signings or only new minor league deals.
The Cubs account for $2.25 million of that $3.7 million with the signings of Austin Romine ($1.5 million) and Jonathan Holder ($750,000). I suppose their thinking is, “We still have some talent on this team, we can win a bad division and keep some fan interest and maybe when we have three million people back, we’ll spend again.”
Well. That’s not really the way to play winning baseball and it’s certainly not the way to get those three million fans back in Wrigley Field, because a lot of them are already upset at the way the Cubs have approached this offseason. The non-signing of Jon Lester is just one more indication, particularly if they could have had him for next to nothing in 2021.
The Cubs did post this well-done tribute video to Lester on Twitter today, and it’s really good and definitely worth watching:
I wrote a tribute to Lester, too, last October, but I’d rather have the player himself pitching for the Chicago Cubs in 2021. The fact that he won’t over what appears to be a small amount of money speaks volumes.
Thanks for everything, Jon. You’ll always be a Cubs World Series champion.