Jon Lester beat cancer. Now the Chicago Cubs expect him slay the Curse of the Billy Goat.
The former Red Sox ace agreed to a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs overnight–the largest in franchise history. A vesting option could expand the monetary value to $170.
The familiarity with Cubs GM Theo Epstein from their days together in Boston, the excitement surrounding the club’s addition of manager Joe Maddon, and the lobbying of former teammate Ryan Dempster all cajoled Lester into coming to a team that hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2008 and a World Series triumph since a century before that.
So did the money.
The Cubs offered a more attractive offer than the San Francisco Giants, who offered a more attractive package than the Boston Red Sox. The club that traded away Lester to the A’s in July topped out at six years and $135 million. Despite their free-handed ways this offseason, the Red Sox remain without an ace. The team that appeared overflowing with pitching and in need of bats at the start of the 2014 season now faces the opposite problem entering 2015.
“It’s not often you get to win the lottery,” Joe Maddon said of the acquisition. “We won the baseball lottery so far this year, but now it’s up to us to put it into effect. It’s all theory right now. We’ve got to make it real, but you need pieces like this to make it real.”
Lester owns two World Series rings, a no-hitter, a 116-67 record, 1,457 strikeouts, and a career 3.58 ERA. He enjoyed a 16-11 record with a career-best 2.46 ERA in a 2014 season split between Oakland and Boston.