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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lester return to Boston a long shot; Cubs, Yankees are likely players

A report out that a free agent won’t automatically sign with one team? Why, what possible motive could he have for drumming up more interest in other teams?

Still, it’s quite a leap from loving his stay in Boston to being likely to return there this winter as a free agent. The reality is, it’s probably the opposite. The strong belief around the game is that Lester is likely to sign somewhere other than the Red Sox.

Most folks around baseball would be surprised if Lester and the Red Sox could agree on a contract at a time other teams will be bidding hard for him. After all, the two sides couldn’t come close to doing it when they had a clear shot at contract. A return by Lester to Boston was dubbed a “long shot” by league officials who have familiarity with the situation.

The Cubs and rival Yankees, among others, look like much more likely landing spots for Lester at this time, in fact. The Yankees have admired Lester’s guts and clutch pitching for years (and especially that career 0.43 World Series ERA) and would surely make a play for the former Red Sox ace. Meanwhile, folks around the game suggest Lester’s old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who picked Lester for Boston and are now running the Cubs, are extremely likely to be in there pitching, as well. Epstein and Hoyer “absolutely love” Lester, is the word from one official who knows Chicago’s top execs well.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 03:41 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, free agents, jon lester, red sox, yankees

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   1. A triple short of the cycle Posted: August 20, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4775627)
A return by Lester to Boston was dubbed a “long shot” by league officials who have familiarity with the situation.

Is that even legal? WTF.
   2. AROM Posted: August 20, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4775628)
Strange coming from Heyman. Lester is not, to my knowledge, a Boras client.
   3. Willie Mayspedester Posted: August 20, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4775759)
Predicting free agents is tough. Seems like Boston's new long term contract avoidance will cause him to go elsewhere.
   4. boteman Posted: August 20, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4775777)
Babe Ruth. #NeverForget
   5. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:29 PM (#4775874)
Predicting that the Yankees will go after, and in all probability will sign, the #1 free agent on the market is not tough at all, on the other hand.

I have no doubt Boston will be happy to help drive Lester's price up for them, though.
   6. Win Big Stein's Money Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4775885)
Like when they signed Cano to that long term extension, just as everyone obviously predicted.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4775947)
Let's just say that, duh, it would be unusual if Lester signed with Boston given he and Boston already failed to come to terms on a long-term extension. While it is possible that the Red Sox will re-assess and offer more or that Lester will re-assess after seeing other offers, it's clearly pretty unlikely.
   8. McCoy Posted: August 20, 2014 at 09:59 PM (#4775950)
I think if I was any team this offseason and Lester's agent came up to me and told me he's got some team that wants to pay him X and X is much higher than where you want to go you say thanks but no thanks.
   9. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4775953)

I think if I was any team this offseason and Lester's agent came up to me and told me he's got some team that wants to pay him X and X is much higher than where you want to go you say thanks but no thanks.


Wouldn't you say that to all the agents in that situation?

   10. Sonic Youk Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4775964)
The Yankees are at 172 million for next year with a ton of holes to address. Obviously they have to go past the tax, but they've shown some unwillingness to get way up to where the dodgers are.

They also just keep getting boned by the vast majority of these deals. It will be interesting to see what they're actually willing to do this offseason.
   11. TJ Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4775965)
Hmmm, let's see, if the money/length of contract is close, Lester can go to the Yankees, an old and decrepit team with little help on the horizon, or he could go to the Cubs, who have as exciting a collection of young talent coming as anyone in baseball. And he would get to pitch in the NL, too- can't imagine why Lester would turn down Chicago for the Yanks under those circumstances...
   12. McCoy Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4775975)
Wouldn't you say that to all the agents in that situation?

GMs apparently do not.
   13. Sonic Youk Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:25 PM (#4775981)
Ehhh, I can think of a few reasons someone would rather play for the Yankees, too. There isn't much of a narrative to really suggest he's dying to be a Cub.

The only wrinkle in Lester's story is the weird Kremlinology about him going back to Boston. Other than that, it's a pretty good bet that he'll sign with whoever offers the most, like every other FA.
   14. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:19 PM (#4776030)
Am I the only who thinks the Red Sox FO took Lester aside before dealing and effectively said, hey, how'd you like to play for another contender instead of wasting 9 more starts here? We'll offer you close to what the open market will give you in the offseason AND we now have a decent LF to help us out?
Everybody wins. Lester gets to possibly pitch in the playoffs again and he gets close to FA value and the Red Sox get to bring him back for what will be a little less then market value. He also has stated numerous times that he likes Boston and his family is happy there(Then again if have millions, I would imagine most places can be pretty nice)

Sure, there are probably legal issue with the conversation, but surely this type of thing occurs. The Sox sent him to one of the few teams who has no chance of signing him...no chance at all.
   15. JE (Jason) Posted: August 21, 2014 at 12:16 AM (#4776074)
Ehhh, I can think of a few reasons someone would rather play for the Yankees, too. There isn't much of a narrative to really suggest he's dying to be a Cub.

Maybe my sarcasm detector needs new batteries but isn't being the no. 1 pitcher on a Cubs team making its first trip to the Series since 1945 a pretty damn fine narrative?
   16. OCD SS Posted: August 21, 2014 at 12:16 AM (#4776075)
Well, that's probably only an illegal conversation after a trade is made and his contract is assigned to another team. Having that conversation prior to a deal should be OK, and it's not like the A's were looking to re-sign him…

That said, I doubt he's back because the Sox don't seem to want to pay top dollar and long years got an inevitable decline.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:49 AM (#4776098)
Am I the only who thinks the Red Sox FO took Lester aside before dealing and effectively said, hey, how'd you like to play for another contender instead of wasting 9 more starts here? We'll offer you close to what the open market will give you in the offseason AND we now have a decent LF to help us out?

If the Red Sox offered a year/$ figure that Lester wanted, he'd have been extended back in May/June if not earlier. The reason he's not already under contract to the Red Sox for, say, 2015-19 is because they could not agree.

It was reported in April that the Red Sox "lowballed" him with an offer in the 4/$70-80 range. In late May, Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said on WEEI that the team would like to resume contract discussions with Lester's representatives at some point during the season. On July 24, Henry said negotiations were done until after the season and a week later he was traded.

Granted that last story claimed that "the belief remains" that Lester wants to stay in Boston and is willing to take a hometown discount to do so. Are pigs flying in Boston?

What the hell, Buehrle apparently fell for Loria's "kid, you don't need a no-trade clause, there's no way we'd trade you" so I suppose it's no more far-fetched to believe that Lester would believe the Red Sox "wink, wink, we'll offer you a better contract than we were a week ago, honest."
   18. Select Storage Device Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:56 AM (#4776099)
I've heard more about Lester's wistful eye-batting to return to Boston than his actual performances for the A's save his first appearance. Anything to keep the Sox in the convo in August when they are out.

Am I the only who thinks the Red Sox FO took Lester aside before dealing and effectively said, hey, how'd you like to play for another contender instead of wasting 9 more starts here?


Nah, not at all. And god I hope you are wrong, because I wouldn't be able to stand the self-satisfaction from pundits and personal doofus acquaintances.
   19. Norcan Posted: August 21, 2014 at 05:46 AM (#4776113)
It's hard not to see him ending up with the Yankees. They have a huge need for pitching and he fits that need extremely well, with the added bonus of not costing them a draft pick. I figure they're going to blow other suitors out of the water by about 30-40 million. I can't see him turning such an offer down. I suppose the Cubs could make things competitive but Theo and company might view Lester similarly to his former co-workers.
   20. TRBMB Posted: August 21, 2014 at 07:16 AM (#4776121)
I find it hard to believe the Yankees will be in on Lester. Their GM, Cashboy, has a long history of focus on drafting and developing players internally. Whoops, my mistake.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: August 21, 2014 at 07:56 AM (#4776132)
What the hell, Buehrle apparently fell for Loria's "kid, you don't need a no-trade clause, there's no way we'd trade you" so I suppose it's no more far-fetched to believe that Lester would believe the Red Sox "wink, wink, we'll offer you a better contract than we were a week ago, honest."

What do you mean? What would Lester falling for the tease of a big future contract offer entail? They didn't need his permission to trade him. And there isn't some huge offer from Oakland coming before free agency that he would be turning down.
   22. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:34 AM (#4776146)
Hmmm, let's see, if the money/length of contract is close, Lester can go to the Yankees, an old and decrepit team with little help on the horizon, or he could go to the Cubs, who have as exciting a collection of young talent coming as anyone in baseball. And he would get to pitch in the NL, too- can't imagine why Lester would turn down Chicago for the Yanks under those circumstances...


Not that I think it's a big deal for him but Lester is 0 for 36 as a hitter in his career. It's weird because he looks like someone who I would think would be a good hitter right up until the moment he swings the bat.

Like I said, not a big deal but he's not someone who I would expect to be eager to pitch in the National League.
   23. villageidiom Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4776149)
Granted that last story claimed that "the belief remains" that Lester wants to stay in Boston and is willing to take a hometown discount to do so. Are pigs flying in Boston?
Well, Lester keeps claiming it, so it's worth considering it a possibility. Not a plausibility, not a likelihood, but just a possibility.

Impending free agents very often say they aren't necessarily going for top dollar, and they very often say they are willing to take a discount to stay with X. Rarely does it actually work out that way. OTOH, even more rarely is X a team the impending free agent isn't playing for when he says it.

Yes, absent other info we should assume this will be just like every other similar situation, meaning Lester will go to the highest bidder, which will likely not be Boston. I'm just saying the similarity scores here are lower.
   24. AROM Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4776158)
0 for 36 with 22 strikeouts. His batting highlights came in 2010, when he had a sac fly and a walk.

Anyone know the record for most career AB without a hit?
   25. AROM Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:11 AM (#4776161)
By a Google search looks like Randy Tate holds the record, 0 for 41. Pitched only 1 season, for the 1975 Mets.

If Lester sticks in the AL, he might break and keep that record. If he goes to the NL he'll be getting 50 or so AB per year, which means sooner or later he'll get a hit by accident.
   26. TJ Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4776166)
Yankees say to Lester...

"John, we love you, and want you in pinstripes. We'll match any offer you get, and here's why you should sign with us:
- We'll always play the right way because Brian McCann says so.
- Mark Teixeira will be healthy next year- honest!
- Stephen Drew is more gritty than Robinson Cano.
- Whomever our shortstop is will have more range than our last one.
- A-Rod is coming back! You hear us, A-Rod is coming back!
- We have Jacoby Ellsbury!
- We have Brent Gardner, who is kinda like Jacoby Ellsbury!
- We have Carlos Beltran, who used to be better than Jacoby Ellsbury!
- Our new DH will run faster than David Ortiz.

And as an added bonus, you will get to have John Sterling come up with a cool catchphrase for you, like "The Melkman delivers" or "An A-Bomb, from A-Rod". So, whaddya say, Jon?"

Chicago Cubs say to Lester...
"Our returning first baseman hit about as many home runs by himself as the entire returning Yankee infield."

Lester says to the Yankees- "You want me to sign with you? Then add another 30-40 million bucks to that offer."



   27. Nasty Nate Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:22 AM (#4776170)
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the Cubs' chances to win the pennant.
   28. DKDC Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4776184)
If Daniel Cabrera had spent more time in the National League he almost certainly would’ve broken that record.

32 Plate Appearances

24 Ks
3 sac bunts
2 ground outs
1 HBP
2 BB

At least Lester has hit 3 balls to the outfield.
   29. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4776187)
The Cubs had an opening day payroll of $92 million this year; the team's lowest since 2005. According to Cots, they currently sit at $31.16 million in 2015 obligations.

Their Arb 3 guys are:

James McDonald
Chris Coghlan
Wesley Wright
Luis Valbuena

Their Arb 2 guys are:

Travis Wood
Justin Ruggiano
Pedro Strop

Their Arb 1 guys are:

Felix Dubront
Jake Arrieta
Wellington Castillo

That looks like a $50 - $55 million-ish payroll to me if they don't add FAs. And the thing is, there's nowhere in the lineup they really need to do that and they have lots of options to fill out the middle/back end of a rotation. Even under current payroll constraints they have a ton of cash to throw around and the top of the rotation is the glaring need (bullpen needs some help too). It's weird to say it these days but I don't think anybody can/will outbid the Cubs on elite pitchers. The pressure from the fanbase to go sign one is extreme.

   30. RickG Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4776208)
Living here in Chicago, every Cubs fan I talk to is absolutely convinced Lester is pitching on thr North Side next season.
   31. AROM Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4776254)
You'll know for sure if they guy in line in front of you looks a lot like Jon Lester. When you ask if it's him, he says something awkward like "Who's that?" Followed by "People mistake me for him all the time."
   32. Spahn Insane Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4776261)
You'll know for sure if they guy in line in front of you looks a lot like Jon Lester. When you ask if it's him, he says something awkward like "Who's that?" Followed by "People mistake me for him all the time."

Great--now we'll get a billion fanboys crowding around the Wrigleyville Starbucks come January...
   33. Spahn Insane Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4776264)
Living here in Chicago, every Cubs fan I talk to is absolutely convinced Lester is pitching on thr North Side next season.

I'm not "absolutely convinced" he'll end up here, but I am "absolutely convinced" the Cubs will be on him heavily, for all the reasons Pops stated and others (fills the single biggest glaring team need [and the accompanying pressure to fill it], and the one need that can't be filled from within, Cubs have a ton of money to spend notwithstanding the Ricketts clan's apparent cheapness, Cubs F.O. has a connection to Lester through their Boston days). I would be surprised if anyone blows the Cubs out of the water to get him.
   34. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4776267)
It's weird to say it these days but I don't think anybody can/will outbid the Cubs on elite pitchers. The pressure from the fanbase to go sign one is extreme.

If this was the first year of Ricketts's ownership I'd be right behind you in your belief that the Cubs will make a major purchase this offseason. But it isn't so I'm going to be skeptical right up until the point that the FA signs the contract and puts on the jersey. I find it hard to imagine the Cubs signing somebody to a 20+ million dollars a year contract.
   35. Ziggy Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4776316)
The Cubs signing a top FA pitcher makes too much sense for it not to happen. Scherzer would be sub-optimal, given his fly-ball ways. Someone with a bigger ball park would probably outbid CHC. But either Lester or Shields would be a good fit.
   36. GregD Posted: August 21, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4776376)
The point about the Cubs payroll space next uear makes sense. The X factor for me is whether theo will take the ego hit of overpaying. It will probably take what will look like a bad--possibly very bad--contract to get Lester, right? We know the dodgers don't are about appearances so I would bet on la if they are in the game. An infinite checkbook, a lack of concern about winning the postseason report cards and a cavalier approach to the future are a powerful combination
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4776407)
It will probably take what will look like a bad--possibly very bad--contract to get Lester, right?

I expect Lester, Shields and Scherzer all to get absurd contracts.

Pretty much every big market team is going to be in on them, and the sport is just swimming in cash.

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