4:54: PM CST: Break out the salt shakers, but..."Cubs are talking very seriously with James Shields." -@injuryexpert @br_radio #BRAD". So the tweet comes from Jason Goff, who seems to host an afternoon Sirius radio show and I think he's talking to enemy of the state, Will Carroll, who I believe is the one saying the above. It would't completely surprise me, but it would be surprising in a way. I would think that after being able to sign Lester and a high draft pick next year, Cubs would prefer to have one more big draft class opportunity, but I could be wrong.
2:35 PM CST: Well, I suppose Johnny Gomes technically qualifies as a LF power bat.
1:49 PM CST: Jim Bowden (yeah I know), says Cubs are looking for a LF power bat.
My final take on this Jon Lester business. Yes, of course, it's too much money for too many years (aka big ticket free agency) and the full no-trade clause puts a bit of a damper on the deal, but with that much competition on Lester, it was probably necessary. It seems there is a $30 million signing bonus involved, with $20 million being paid to Lester right now and the other $10 million being spread out over the life of the contract. If that is how it works out, that's $135M over 6 years, which would be $22.5M per year. Let's say I'm a big fan if that is the case, using the savings from the last few years to make the contract slightly more manageable in the future. There is a 7th year option worth $25M that automatically vests if Lester throws 200 innings in 2020 or 400 total innings between 2019 and 2020. I haven't seen if that's a club, player or mutual option, but I would guess player. I'm not sure if there's a buyout involved. I'm also not sure what numbers I'm missing because the report is that it would be a total of $170M over 7 years if the option vests, but I get $180M ($155+25M), so there's something not adding up, but I'm sure it'll get figured out soon enough. Lester also gets 25 hours a year of private air travel paid for by the Cubs.
In the end, the Cubs got the guy they wanted...the guy with the ability and make-up that they craved, the guy with 2 rings to show off to the youngsters. And there is some success in left-handers in their mid to late 30's (Lilly and Pettite come to mind) that the Cubs will still get something out of Lester on the backend of the deal. In itself, it's not enough to put them in playoff contention next year, but it's enough to start them down the path. And well, you never know, maybe the youngsters all come out hitting like they did in the minors and next year the magic begins.
More rumoring after the break...