MLB free agent

Signed: Lester Goes To The Cubs

lesterbye

Jon Lester says good-bye to Boston.

 

All along the thought here was that Jon Lester would return to the Boston Red Sox, the team he played for eight-plus seasons until a 2014 deadline deal to the Oakland A’s. But the free agent lefty instead opted for a reported six-year, $155MM deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The deal, which was agreed upon late Tuesday night, includes a vesting option for a seventh season that would bring the total worth of the deal to $170MM. According to ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Estes, the Red Sox top offer was six years for $135MM with no vesting option included.

Lester, who doesn’t turn 31 until January, was 16-11, 2.46 in 32 starts (21 with Boston) between the Red Sox and A’s last season. The pending free agent was dealt with outfielder Jonny Gomes to the A’s on July 31 for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a draft slot. Cespedes has been the subject of trade rumors, which now may pick up with the increased need for a front of the rotation starting pitcher.

The Red Sox reportedly made a one-year offer to bring back another former pitcher, Justin Masterson, but the righty struggled last year with Cleveland and St. Louis. You can expect renewed talks with the Philadelphia Phillies for Cole Hamels.

New Cubs manager Joe Maddon was more than happy to have an old AL East nemesis on his team.

“It’s not often you get to win the lottery,” he said. “We won the baseball lottery so far this year, but now it’s up to us to put it into effect. It’s all theory right now. We’ve got to make it real, but you need pieces like this to make it real.”

“He’s been [to the World Series] before. He understands what it feels like. I want to believe that he could foresee the same thing happening here,” Maddon said.

“Yeah. It definitely sends that message about how [Cubs president Theo Epstein] and the group feels about this particular group, but understand we have a lot of young players that have to grow up, and we have to do a good job of nurturing that and making it happen,” Maddon said. “It’s possible, but having Jon there definitely adds to the flavor and the believability.”1

Baseball free agency…expect the unexpected.

1 – espn.com
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Free Agent: A.J. Burnett Returns to P-Burg

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of Pennsylvania. Free agent right-hander A.J. Burnett pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and 2013 before he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies prior to last season. After he turned down a $12.75MM option to return to Philly for the 2015 season, Burnett agreed today to a one year, $8.5MM that will have him donning the black and gold of the Pirates next season.

Burnett, who will turn 38 in January, made $15MM in a season in which he led the National League in losses with 18. The Phillies struggled as a team in 2014 and with the future not looking bright for the 2015 campagain, it was no shock that Burnett walked away from his option to play for a better team. Burnett had two of his best seasons as a member of the Pirates, who have made the playoffs the last two seasons as a wild card entry.

Burnett finished with 16 wins and posted a 3.51 ERA when the Pirates finished four games below .500 in 2012. The lanky righty, who has World Series rings from the 2003 Marlins (injuries limited him to 23 games) and 2009 Yankees, pitched in bad luck the following season, but the team ended a 20-year postseason drought. (The team won the wild card game before they lost to St. Louis in the division series.) The lanky righty finished 10-11 despite a 3.30 ERA and a league best 9.8 K’s per nine innings.