Lester Signs With Cubs, Red Sox Search Continues


There is no joy in Beantown. Mighty Ben Cherington and the Boston Red Sox brass struck out, as Jon Lester signed a 6-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

“Lester’s deal will pay him the third-highest annual average salary, and was $20 million higher than the Boston Red Sox’s bid, with Red Sox officials confirming they are out” (Bob Nightengale, USA Today). Once Lester passes his physical, the deal will be made official today.

Lester rejoins Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president, and gets the long-term stability that he wanted. One can only speculate particular factors in the decision, but Red Sox fans can at least take some solace in the fact that it must have been very conflicting for the man. He scheduled a meeting late last night with Boston and told them of his decision before it went viral. Not every free agent goes even that far for his former club.

Some Red Sox fans, however, may not care about that sentiment. Along with new manager and former rival Joe Maddon, “Lester joins a team that is expected to contend for the NL Central division title. They have young stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, along with prized prospects Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell” (Nightengale). The Cubs are the Cubs. They may win; they likely will not. Whatever the case, the money and the new team are reasons Bostonians will not be crying tears of sympathy for Lester.

So what is the legacy of Jon Lester in Boston? He pitched nine years, with a record of 110-63, a 3.64 earned-run average, pitched 10 complete games, and struck out 1386 batters. Lester was a three-time All-Star, who helped bring two World Series Championships to Boston, and even pitched a no-hitter. Those are just some of the statistics.

Let us not forget the man, himself. Lester came back after a very scary battle with lymphoma, which would have stopped other men’s careers forever. Instead, Lester fought back and pitched a year later to clinch the championship in Game 4 in 2007. In 2011, Lester partnered with CharityWines to have his own label, where the proceeds from sales support cancer research. He also recently partnered with teammate Clay Buchholz to do the same thing for another label, to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, the charity that Red Sox fans have supported since 1948 to help cancer research and provide care to patients. Lester also works with his wife to support children battling cancer with their personal charity, NVRQT, short for ‘Never Quit’.

There are many Boston faithful who will be upset by this morning’s news; however, it is important to put this ‘tragedy’ into perspective. The owner John W. Henry knew that it was a risk to send Lester to Oakland, with the chance that he could sign back with the Red Sox or go elsewhere. Henry visited Lester multiple times about the situation and made his feelings heard. Maybe the trade had nothing to do with the decision, but maybe it sat festering in the back of Lester’s mind. None of us will ever know. Does that make Lester a traitor, by making Chicago his home for the foreseeable future?

Lester spent nine years of his life building bonds with Boston and its people, giving everything he had to help them win championships and take back their lives, including his own, from disease and heartache. The search will continue for an ace on the mound for the Red Sox, but Lester should be congratulated for the great job he did in Boston. Now, he should be allowed to make a new path for himself, without animosity, with a team that will pay him well into retirement. Can the Cubs win the World Series with Lester? Well, they have a better chance now, but Boston is not out of it. The number of desired assets the Red Sox have suggests that it will only be a matter of time until a trade is made for an ace.

Thank you, Jon. At least now, everyone can move on to new things. We just have no idea what that will be.