LOS ANGELES, December 10, 2014 — Jon Lester has finally made his decision on where he will be playing in 2015. According to ESPN.com, the Chicago Cubs have signed the left hander for six years and $155 million guaranteed.
The deal also includes a $10 million buyout and a vesting option for a seventh year and another $25 million should Lester pitch either 200 innings in 2019 or 400 total innings combined in 2019 and 2020.
Lester, 31, had a 1.102 WHIP last year with Boston and Oakland to go with 220 strikeouts in 219.2. He was traded in July to Oakland from the Red Sox. He started 21 games for Boston before being traded to Oakland, where he started another 11.
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2008, Lester has thrown over 200 inning every year except 2011 when he reached 191.2 innings. While he has been pretty durable over the course of his career, his career WHIP is an unimpressive 1.276.
Lester will be the Cubs ace and more importantly, this signing signals that Cubs GM Theo Epstein is ready to start spending money. Chicago fans have obviously been waiting since 1908 for a World Series, but Epstein’s hire in 2012 only made them more anxious for that World Series.
Epstein took a Boston Red Sox franchise that was in a similar predicament as the Cubs and in 2004, brought Boston their first World Series title in 87 years. Chicago fans are not hoping, but expecting that same situation to happen for them.
Since Epstein took the reins, he has been preaching that the fans of Chicago need to be patient. They have. That patience is about to be rewarded.
Thanks to Theo Epstein, the Cubs have the deepest farm system in baseball that is loaded with major league ready talent. They have the pieces in place to start contending and they will be built to last. Fans can look forward to a better year in 2015 than 2014, but they are still not at the point where a World Series is an option.
Give the Cubs another year to let the kids grow and let Theo spend some money and trade a few prospects and Chicago will be heavily in the World Series and playoffs conversations.
Boston fans were hoping for Lester to return and were hoping for a hometown discount. Lester even said last year that if traded, he would want to return to Boston. The Red Sox offer was for six years and $135 million, but did not include the vesting option for 2021.
For Chicago, both the Cubs and White Sox are making moves that are sure to reinvigorate one of baseball’s better baseball towns. This should obviously be exciting for the people of Chicago, but for baseball as a whole.
Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for Communities Digital News. He also writes about Major League Baseball, punk rock music and food. Kevin also writes for New Noise Magazine and plays guitar in the Los Angeles punk band Emmer Effer. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball