The Cubs Get Their Man

Yes, that man...Jon Lester. Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal have both tweeted that Lester has informed Red Sox he won't be signing with them.

More to come...

UPDATE #1: The

UPDATE #2: Red Sox offer was 6/135, Giants were willing to go 7/168 according to Jeff Passan.

UPDATE #3: Levine

UPDATE #4: Jon Heyman refutes the Giants offer, saying they topped out at 6/150 with a little room to spare, but wouldn't go a 7th year.

UPDATE #5: Not exactly sure how the 7th year option works, but if picked up, could bring deal to 7/170M according to Bob Nightengale. By the way, Lester's deal is now the 2nd highest annual average salary for a pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw, although Max Scherzer is certain to top Lester's. I do hope the Cubs were able to manipulate the years, so it's a bit more front-loaded, so that in years 4,5,6 and possibly 7, they'll have room to pay their prospects that'll be up for arbitration and free agency or be able to trade Lester.

UPDATE #6: , “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.”

UPDATE #7: Joe Maddon reacts with, "“We won the baseball lottery.” Also, David Ross has multiple offers according to Chris Cotillo with Cubs, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Braves all in play.


Nice. Let's do this!

Yahoo! Why the hell not!!!!!!

Here is the MLB TV feed when the Lester news broke. John Smoltz color commentary and then Ken Rosenthal joins them...and a Muskat article too.

Rob also got his man in Montero. I'm hoping they keep Castillo. That could be a kick ass platoon. Fangraphs has a nice pitch framing sequence on Montero, btw. It's really pretty simple what he does. He just makes sure his forearm pushes up on every low pitch. Castillo just kind of stays where he is with his arm: Montero reminds me of Walter Payton when he would get tackled and always throw his football hand out in front of him about a yard to get that extra few inches. That was the first time I saw that in a football player (could be others did it first tho). That really does seem like something Castillo could learn.

Well, free agency still sucks, and I'll be surprised if this contract isn't an albatross at its end, but if he doesn't get hurt, I'm pretty excited about Lester anyway. The signing does a lot of things: Legitimizes the Cubs to the rest of the league, builds morale in the clubhouse, big time, provides an obvious anchor in the rotation, gives us a lefty starter who is as good as they come, and is yet another lure in getting additional free agents. In a short playoff series, if Lester stays healthy and Arietta has the same kind of season he had last year, the Cubs have a good chance to win the first two games. This puts a bit of pressure on Bryant to have a whopping rookie year, because if he does the lineup really solidifies even if Baez needs to go back down. If Baez somehow figures it out, look out. That's a pretty powerful lineup backed by two excellent starters and an ok rest of the staff that is well coached. And I have a feeling TheoCorp is not done yet. Even if this contract blows at its end, it's worth it in this day and age. People, including me, now have to shut up about Ricketts not spending money. He's investing tons on Wrigley, and now Lester, and Montero was essentially a free agent pickup, too, in a monetary sense at least. Best winter meetings ever.

Nice pitcher. It would be nice to shore up the bullpen now.

They could use a lefty, but overall the bullpen is in pretty good shape.

Haven't been this excited since Soriano signing. TheJedi rules !

Gotta love Maddon: "I'll stand up and make the same speech regardless, but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it."

I wonder if the big bat is going to be Matt Kemp. I'm looking at the list of offensive performers in 2014 by wOBA and was surprised but not shocked to see him 18th on that list. Of the 17 ahead of him, one is Rizzo, and the other 16 likely are not available at almost any price and/or would not fit on the Cubs' current roster (for example, 1B only). The other "nice" thing about Kemp is that he's overpaid, so if the Cubs are willing to take all or most of the salary, they probably won't have to give much talent to take him. He's done as a CF but can probably slot into LF and not hurt the team as long as he hits like he did late last year. I was pretty convinced when he destroyed the bleachers at Wrigley during those games in early September.

I like Kemp a lot but man, those Dodgers are holding on to their surplus outfielders like...well like the Cubs are holding on to their infielders. Maybe the Cubs can send them 5 of their middle rotation guys for Kemp.

They're obviously shopping Kemp though, at least 4 teams have talked deal with the Dodgers, Padres being the strongest. I like Kemp in LF, but I think Cubs want a left-handed bat. Also Kemp's got attitude and defense issues...

Never know though....

How about Carl Crawford? /can't believe I typed that

wow, that's a lot of loot per year...i thought it would be closer to 22/23m a year at most. people really wanted j.lester (esp the cubs). it feels good caring about the team in the offseason again.

For the past few seasons everything about the Cubs has been interesting to follow accept most of the team on the field, but I will agree that it is pleasing to see the plan coming together. Put another way, it continues to be nice to have a management team that has a rational plan to build an organization.

i don't agree with the 'rational' part, but i do agree that they followed through on their promise. some people had the patience for this crap...some didn't. at least the "half-empty wrigley field" problem might be solved. the "wake me when this matters" crowd has to be engaged now.

This of course is where we disagree.

the fact that they delivered what they promised chills out what i feel about the rebuild going on too long. it's an opinion, anyway...and the ship is righted.

Will you now agree that they aren't cheap?

it's a relief. i expected them to spend at some point, but i did wonder how far they were willing to go. the poverty play went on too long for more than a few of us out there. a plan is a plan, but pretending there's only 1 way to achieve this current goal isn't something that everyone will buy into...then, now, or in the future. now it's time to see if this front office can make picks 15+ in the 1st round of the draft count as well as the picks they've been gifting themselves via intentionally tanking for so many years.

I think you and Gordo should start a Cubs blog.

i think you think about me too much. seriously. take a break and enjoy the new $26m a year pitcher. maybe read an article about why we should ignore WAR in the case of montero vs welly or something...something light and fun.

not a lot of thinking, just reacting to the immense amount of hypocritical B.S. you spew...enjoy your day Gordo.

sure thing, kanye.

I would love to laugh at that if I had any idea what you were referencing.

yup, still lost, but the clip was funny.

Rob Geezus?

Nice news to wake up to.  I have to believe there will be sevreral more moves coming, but you can't get much better than a 2-day catch of Hammels, Montero, and Lester.

Y! Sports: Reminder: The Cubs won the 2015 World Series in 'Back to the Future 2' Allow for some irrational exuberance.

Still not sure how they're going to beat Miami in the WS, though...

It's symbolic - Stanton, Fernandez, and Yelich will be Yankees or Red Sox by July.

TCR start building the Jon Lester Lounge in parrot chat.

Wittenmeyer tweets hold onto those champagne corks, Astros still in the mix for Lester.

Call me crazy, but where do they put a big bat that doesn't block one of the kids? I know we have Coghlan/Ruggiano in LF right now, but it's very possible that either Bryant or Schwarber will need to be out there in the near future. And Alcantara is exciting but not untouchable in CF, but aren't they supposedly still high on Almora? It would almost make the most sense, if they are picking up a big bat, to do a blockbuster involving one or more of these high-end prospects.

They either have to trade prospects or sign Morse, Rasmus, Rios, Melky to a 1-2 year deal.

I know, and I just don't see the (potential reward of those guys) - (expected production of Coghlan/Ruggiano platoon) as equal to or greater than the extra money spent. For reference, Ruggiano has a career .836 OPS against lefties and Coghlan is at .771 (with a .346 OBP) against righties throughout his career.

Call me crazy, but where do they put a big bat that doesn't block one of the kids?

LF/3B/CF seem to be the options...Bryant can move to LF if they find a 3B.

I like the Carlos Gonzalez idea a lot if it's mostly a salary dump (None of the 'A' prospects going to Rockies). There's risk there of course, but there's risk in whatever move they make.

Last bullet point in the Boston Globe article on Lester:


"Lester struggles to field his position and throw to bases, two weaknesses NL teams can more readily take advantage of. Lester helps control the run game by being quick to the plate. But he’s essentially afraid to throw to first."


Another Matt Garza?  

I read that too and shuddered with terror briefly. I sure hope he's not as bad as Garza. (I will say that between interleague play and world series performance we should have some data available on how he performs against NL teams).

His interleague splits slightly outperform his career stats. Also, interestingly, his day game splits outperform his night game splits.

Does anyone remember Terry Muholland?

if you don't know already, lester is extremely sketchy involving anything except throwing the ball to the catcher. don't expect to see him hold runners, check runners, or even threaten to throw to 1st. he makes greg maddux look over-protective when to comes to stuff like that. if there's a runner on base, lester doesn't care he exists.

Cubs odds to win WS 12/1

Why must you ruin my fun?

Happiest guy in town with all the Cubs & Sox news -- Jay Cutler.

Marc Trestman, Phil Emery Who wins a playoff game next? Cubs or Bears?

Bears had a plan, too -- build a big-time offense, then sign pash rushers to go get the QB once you had the lead. A few problems with the plan -- last year's offense was a mirage (partially induced by the backup QB and his 109 rating & 13/1 TD/Int ratio), old D-Linemen get hurt a lot and lose effectiveness quickly, their LBs and safeties were never going to be good enough, and the D-Coordinator is a disaaster. But, still...they did have a plan.

So do most cults

WHAT'S THE NEXT MOVE!!??!?!?!?!? /hyperventilating //

@Buster_ESPN Jon Lester's deal with the Cubs includes a signing bonus of at least $20 million.

Still think the dynasty will be 2016-2020. Cubs really only have 3 estabished guys in the lineup -- Rizzo, Casto and now Montero. But, it will be fun to follow the major league team more than the minor league teams this year.

Sully writes Cub official told him they " want one more starter"

50 starters for 5 spots is the new market inefficiency...

Lester, Arrieta, Hammel, Hendricks, Wood, Wada, Jackson, Doubront, Turner, Strailly, Jokisch, Beeler,

9 to be precise, as Strailly, Jokisch and Beeler can start in minors. Technically Hendricks and Wada could too, but figures Hendricks deserves a spot and Wada wouldn't have signed to be in the minors.

Obviously some trades and cuts will happen eventually.

Fuck it, sign Scherzer!

guess I wouldn't be shocked if they went after Shields. Their offense is gonna cost them about $40-$50M for the next 3-4years if they don't add a big contract (didn't actually do the math, but seems to be around there). The rest like Bryant, Baez, etc are gonna be quite cheap for awhile.

exactly, cheap offense for next 3-4 years

that being said, I would guess they'd go after Masterson or Peavy on a 1-2 year deal or someone of that nature.

if they spend big again, I'd prefer one of next year's big FA pitchers (Cueto, Price, Zimmerman, Latos, Samardzija, possibly Greinke)

The Cubs will have up to twenty days to add Jason Hammel and Jon Lester to the MLB 40-man roster from the date the player signs his contract, even longer if the MLB office closes for the holidays (as has happened in past yearsl. 

So the Cubs will effectively still have two slots open on their 40-man roster for a period of time (possibly even until January), presuming they choose to delay submitting the Hammel and Lester contracts to the MLB office until they absolutely have to do so.    

Interesting, thanks for the update.

If the Cubs do sign David Ross but want to keep a 40-man roster slot available during the off season for another free-agent or trade acquisition, they could sign Ross to a minor league contract for "big league money" and an NRI to Spring Training, with the further promise that he will positively, absolutely be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster prior to 2015 MLB Opening Day. 

Curious to see exact Lester breakdown, if that $20M signing bonus is all upfront as expected, that means just $135 spread over 6 years which is neat. That's why you don't spend just to spend, so you can pull things like that and keep some budget flexibility for future years.

Radio dudes saying that it's possible they structured the signing bonus so that they could put some of the salary on 2014's books. That they might even spread out the signing bonus over many years. It's a bunch of weird money stuff that I don't understand.

well spreading the signing bonus out over a number of years doesn't do as much good for their budget as I was hoping,  just helps the tax bill I think.

Lester gets NTC

meh, but not unsuprising with that much competition...

I hear that's what knocked the Marlins out of the running.

A quick explanation of how a signing bonus is different from salary...

MLB players are paid bi-monthly during the regular season only. (MLB players receive a weekly stipend of about $1,100 during Spring Training, and players at Minor League Camp get $250 per week).

So MLB players are paid 12 times (twice a month) during the course of the regular season, with 1/12 of their salary paid in each pay check, but they aren't paid during the off-season. 

A signing bonus, however, is usually paid during the off-season, often immediately as soon as a free-agent signs his contract. It typically is paid in December or January, and it is almost always a lump sum payment. It usually is not spread-out during the lifetime of the contract, although sometimes it is paid over two off seasons (as was the case with Anthony Rizzo).

However, Lester's $30M signing bonus is reportedly going to be spread-out over the life of the contract (probably $5M to be paid in December or January prior to each of the six seasons). 

What is sometimes confusing is that when deterimining a club's liability to pay a luxury tax after a given season or when determining a club's "official" MLB payroll for a given season, signing bonuses are always averaged over the lifetime of the contracts, even if the signing bonus was actually a one-time lump-sum payment. 


Is signing bonus new in MLB? Can't remember last time I saw it.

JACOS: Signing bonuses have been part of free-agent deals going back to when free-agency started nearly 40 years ago. 

BTW, Jeff Passan is now reporting that $20M of the signing bonus will be paid up front (probably immediately), with the remainng $10M to be paid over the life of the contract (probably $2M every December or January).

That $20M might come out of the 2014 payroll budget, unused funds the Cubs might have originally earmarked for Tanaka (if he had signed with the Cubs).   

Ok, but that big of a bonus?

It's kind of brilliant if true, spend the savings from last few years and create a slightly more manageable contract for next 6 years.

Gives us another reason to feel less bad about how shitty the 2014 club was.

I agree- It's great that instead of just SPENDING the money on anything, Theo waited until a deal came along that they actually wanted. It's doing business on their terms.

JACOS: Kershaw got an $18M signing bonus, Geinke got $12M, and A-Rod and Josh Hamilton each got $10M, but as far as I know, a $30M signing bonus would blow all previous signing bonuses out of the water.

Edwin Jackson received a substantial $8M signing bonus when the Cubs signed him post-2012, but probably the best comp for Theo would be when he paid a $50M posting free just to get the rights to sign Daisuke Matsusaka a few years ago.

Thanks as always.

I wonder if the Cubs will "unretire" #31 for Lester. Of course they would have to ask "permission" of Jenkins and Maddux, but most retired guys don't really care that much. Especially when the number already belongs to two different HOF Cub pitching greats. Might as well add a third. Lester could contribute something to Fergie's charity.

Hopefully he's not that much of a douche, retired numbers should stay retired. Doubt Maddux or Jenkins would care though.

It's happened a few times, but it has to be a very prominient player.

Frank Tripucka agreed to have his #18 temporarily "unretired" by the Denver Broncos so Peyton Manning could wear it, and Jerry Rice got to wear Steve Largent's retired #80 when he was signed by the Seattle Seahawks a few years ago.  

I know it's happened a few other times, too, but I don't recall the particulars. 


Oh, I know it's happened, it's still dumb.

At least in those 2 cases you cited, the player it was unretired for was a better player than the one that got it retired at least. Certainly not the case in Lester vs Maddux/Jenkins.

Well, after he wins his WS ring with the Cubs, he can wear #31 in spring training.

The Whitesox, in 2010 "un-retired" #11 (Luis Aparicio) when they signed Omar Vizquel. I believe Vizquel had to get Little Luis' OK to get that done but then they are both Venezuelan countrymen and Aparicio was Vizquel's idol growing up. This is a variation on that theme. When MLB retired Jackie Robinson's #42 throughout the league, they gave Yankee closer, Mariano Rivera special OK to wear that uniform number until he retired. and from Wikipedia... (which includes a list of retired baseball numbers):
When the Florida Marlins moved to their current stadium, Marlins Park, and rebranded as the Miami Marlins; the number 5, which was retired for their late first president, Carl Barger, was placed into circulation because Logan Morrison requested to wear the number. Barger was the team's first president, but died in December 1992, four months before the team's first game. The Marlins chose to retire #5 because it was the number worn by Barger's favorite player, Joe DiMaggio.
The Cincinnati Reds, retired #5 in 1940 for Willard Hershberger who had committed suicide during the season; returned #5 to service in 1942; The Reds then retired in 1984 for Johnny Bench.
Placed into circulation in 2012 when the Marlins moved to their new park and decided to honor Barger instead with a plaque at the stadium. The first player to receive the number was Logan Morrison. Barger was the team's first president, but died in December 1992, four months before the team's first game. The Marlins chose to retire #5 because it was the number worn by Barger's favorite player, Joe DiMaggio.
The Montreal Expos retired numbers in honor of four players (Carter #8, Dawson #10, Staub #10, Raines #30). When the franchise relocated to Washington, D.C., after the 2004 season, the newly christened Washington Nationals chose not to recognize any uniform number retired while in Montreal.
It is very rare for a team to reissue a retired number, and usually requires a special circumstance, such as the player for whom the number was retired coming out of retirement himself. The White Sox, #3, Harold Baines is an example of this.

Maybe a better way to do the rertired number thing would be to call it an "honored number," where the player and the number are associated together, but not where the number can't be worn by another player, especially if the player wearing the "honored number" is a player-of-note. So (for example) Jon Lester would be allowed to wear #31, but Dallas Beeler can't. In other words, the number would not be routinely issued, but it could be issued under certain circumstances. 

I remember back when AZ Phil was a youngster in the 1960's, Cubs long-time Equipment Manager Yosh Kawano would not issue #16 (the number Ken Hubbs wore) or Phil Cavaretta's #44 for a number of years, even though neither number was officially retired. Then eventually Yosh gave the numbers out, once the significance of the numbers had somewhat faded away. 

And Greg Maddux (and others) wore #31 even though Fergie Jenkins had worn the number previously, Larry Biittner wore #26 for a few years after Bily Williams was traded, and Ron Santo's #10 was occasionally issued (but only when it was specifically requested by a player) until it was officially retired. 

BTW, although it is not a retired number, the Cubs never issue #69. 

Dave Kingman and Leon Durham #10's

Or just keep the system as is and require players joining a team to avoid the handful of numbers retired by the franchise. It comes up very rarely as an issue and doesn't seem like a huge deal for most guys just to change.  With $170 million coming his way I am guessing Lester will switch to something else without shedding too many tears.

Why don't they just use their salary number as their uniform number? Boom! Problem solved.

"Lester will switch to something else without shedding too many tears" I was inclined to dispute this yesterday--I thought he might "borrow" the number from Jenkins/Maddux for six or seven years--but after looking around a bit, especially at the Yankees, who hire people at Lester's level on a regular basis, I've concluded that the best way to hold onto a number that you like is to stay where you are. Roger Clemens wore #21 proudly for fifteen seasons before being blocked by Paul O'Neill in New York. Clemens tried #12 briefly (a common practice: remember Piniella reversing the numbers on his preferred #14 shirt?) but settled on #22. Randy Johnson favored #51 but, as luck would have it, so did Bernie Williams, so Johnson became another misnumbered Yankee for two seasons. (He chose #41.) Carlos Beltran liked #15 but Furcal already had it with the Cardinals, so Beltran wore #3. Neither #15 nor #3 was available with the Yankees. (#3 is self-explanatory, while #15 had been retired immediately after Thurman Munson's death in a plane crash in 1979.) Beltran switched to #36. It's hard to find the right number when you're wearing pinstripes. As for Lester: #32, anyone? It's interesting that Baseball Reference gives the uniform-number history on every player page. The back of the shirt really symbolizes the player.

if they do sign Gomes (or some other 'clubhouse dude'), at some point someone will need to be dropped from the 40 man roster. I realize they have some time before they have to add Hammels and Lester. Olney: The Cubs would like to sign Jonny Gomes, who has a history with Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay.

Vlilanueva, Sweeney, Watkins, Roach, Ortiz, Szczur, Lake,

(Trade Options) Olt, Valbuena, Castillo, Doubront, Turner, Wood, Wada

A trade could be used to clear roster space (probably Justin Ruggiano if the Cubs sign Jonny Gomes), but otherwise Donn Roach, Brian Schlitter, Blake Parker, Dallas Beeler, Christian Villanueva, Matt Szzcur, and Zac Rosscup  (probably in that order) are the most likely candidates to get dropped from the 40.

Junior Lake, Joe Ortiz, and Logan Watkins (and also Neil Ramirez) are Rule 55 players not eligible to elect free-agency if outrighted, and so while the player could be traded or released, he can't be outrighted until the player signs a 2015 major league contract (and the player can hold off signing until March 1st), or unless the player agrees (in advance) to sign a 2015 minor league contract (not likely).

Parker and Schlitter would have ther right to elect free-agency if outrighted because both have been outrighted previously in their career, but there are no off-season restrictions on outrighting Roach, Beeler, Villanueva, Szczur, or Rosscup, and none of the them can elect free-agency if outrighted, but Beeler, Villanueva, Szczur, and Rosscup would probably get claimed off waivers. Roach has had a poor winter league run n the DWL so he has a good chance to get through waivers. 

Rafael Lopez and Eric Jokisch (and C. J. Edwards, too) have Draft-Excluded status (they were minor league players eligible for selection in the 2015 Rule 5 Draft who were added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th) and so while they can be released or traded, they can't be outrighted to the minors until 20 days prior to 2015 MLB Opening Day. 

Recent comments

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  • Arizona Phil 2 hours 46 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have purchased the contract of 25-year old 6'5 260 RHP Adam Heidenfelder from Gary (American Association) and he has been assigned to the ACL Cubs.  


  • Hagsag 12 hours 54 min ago (view)

    Does anyone know what type of injury Amaya has?


  • Hagsag 12 hours 57 min ago (view)

    I can not believe what a good 3b he has been playing.


  • Wrigley Rat 18 hours 48 min ago (view)

    Robert Stock was claimed off waivers by the Mets.


  • crunch 20 hours 48 min ago (view)

    HR in the 8th.  dope.


  • crunch 22 hours 58 min ago (view)

    he's back out in the field in the top 3rd...must be okay, but he sure doesn't look confidently healthy.  *shrug*  off-day tomorrow...


  • crunch 23 hours 8 min ago (view)

    p.wisdom seems to have injured his right leg/knee swinging a bat...


  • crunch 23 hours 30 min ago (view)

    “It did not feel good to take Javy out of the game,” Ross said. “I never feel comfortable doing that at all. That's a pit in my stomach and it was in my stomach the entire game.”


    “I blame it on myself. I lost the count of the outs,” Báez said. “We talked about it. We're on the same page. I'll be there tomorrow to help the team.”


  • First.Pitch.120 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    The thing that gets me is that she cheated with the guy providing religous-based pre-marital counseling. Hmmm... this guy is abusing his (quasi-)professional couseling position to pursue an intimate relationship; forgot the parts of the Bible about lying, cheating, & doing dirty by the 2016 WS MVP; and clearly has very conflicted feelings on the marriage construct... yep, I'm blowing up multiple people's lives to ride-or-die with THAT guy. 


  • Hagsag 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    I am with my hero Zo.


  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    whole zobrist thing got fleshed out (no pun) in public now...


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed C Harrison Wenson (ex-LAA) to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to Hi-A South Bend. Wenson spent five seasons in the Angels organization, and he got an NRI to MLB Spring Training as an extra catcher with the Halos this past spring. 


  • crunch 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    69 (nice) pitches...goes 4.2ip and leaves with a man on 1st

    4.2ip 3h 1bb 5k, 3r/er (2hr)

    alzolay continues to have the HR screw him over.  12 given up in 62.1ip


  • crunch 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    d.ross pulls baez for alcantara for what was either a mental mistake forgetting the outs or totally not hustling by baez in the bottom 4th running the bases.

    cubs are down by 1.

    hell of manager power play.  hope this plays out well...expect it will.


  • crunch 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    nico expected back in early july...duffy had a "setback" and is in limbo...bote has started baseball activities, but nowhere near a return time.


  • crunch 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    haha.  ump checked alzolay's hat and glove between innings and declared it all clear.

    stuff so nasty they wanna make sure you're not on that "sticky fingers" bandwagon.