The Chicago Cubs and free-agent starting pitcher Jon Lester agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract on Tuesday, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The deal reportedly includes a vesting option for a total amount of $170 million, per Jim Duquette.
Lester entered the Winter Meetings linked with the Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was expected all along to make his decision during the four-day event currently ongoing in San Diego. Chicago previously established itself as an early frontrunner for Lester with an offer "north of $135 million," an amount that proved to be well short of the veteran left-hander's market value.
Lester described his interaction with the Cubs as straightforward, without any real fanfare or "sales pitch". Per Passan:
"The thing I liked about 'em is it wasn't forced and wasn't a sales pitch," Lester said after his meeting with the Cubs. "It was like, ‘This is what we can do.' I don't want BS. I don't want show. I don't want glitz and glamour. I don't want to walk out to the field with your name and number on the JumboTron. I'm not 18 anymore. I want you to tell me what you can do for me and my family."
Lester to the Cubs
Lester to the Cubs
Lester spent the final few months of 2014 with the Oakland Athletics after being acquired from Boston in a trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox. The 30-year-old All-Star posted a 2.35 ERA/159 ERA+ in 76⅔ innings spanning 11 starts for the Athletics, who eventually lost to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Wild Card play-in game. Lester started that contest and allowed six earned runs on eight hits in 7⅓ innings.
The rough start in Kansas City did little to diminish Lester's postseason reputation. He owns a 2.57 ERA in 84 innings during the playoffs. Lester has been even better than that in three World Series starts, allowing just one run in 21 frames.
During the regular season, Lester has been one of baseball's top workhorses. He has eclipsed 200 innings in six out of the last seven seasons and boasts a 3.47 ERA/124 ERA+ during that time.