Red Sox Nation is in full-fledged mourning with the news that longtime team-favorite, pitcher Jon Lester, has elected to join the Chicago Cubs on a lucrative free-agent contract. A lot has already been written and talked about on the matter but here are a few of my thoughts.
1. The Boston Red Sox clearly have enough money so that they could have signed Lester if they wanted. It looks like it probably came down to the team setting a limit on the years and/or dollars they were willing to go, and tapped out when that was exceeded.
2. Lester should not receive an iota of flak for his decision. Neither should the Red Sox. Baseball is a business and both parties made the choices they respectively thought best for themselves.
3. In parts of nine seasons in Boston, Lester won 110 regular season games; was a big part of two World Series-winning squads; was a widely-respected teammate and community member; and kicked cancer’s butt. You can’t beat that resume.
4. Leaving Boston doesn’t tarnish Lester’s team legacy in any way. He came, he saw, he conquered, he left.
5. Never understood why so many fans felt Lester would potentially pass up the biggest deal to return to Boston. I am sure he enjoyed his time in the area and the fan support, but at the end of the day he worked incredibly hard to get to the point where he could command a bidding frenzy.
6. Like any person with a career, Lester had the right and a responsibility to himself to weigh factors like compensation, future goals and opportunity.
7. Just because the Red Sox weren’t willing to spend whatever it took to sign Lester doesn’t mean they won’t spend as much or more to bring in another ace (Max Scherzer?). Like most teams, they likely have a value assigned to available players, and Lester may not have been tops on that list.
8. If they can pry him loose, Cole Hamels is a much better deal. The Phillies’ southpaw is due to make $94 million over the next four seasons while Lester will make $155 million over the next six. Even with prospects/players Boston would have to give up to obtain Hamels, the savings would be huge on a pitcher who has traditionally provided similar production.
9. I bet fans will likely be surprised with how well the Boston starting rotation comes together when it is all said and done. The team has already demonstrated it is working to build a 2015 contender and there are still plenty of good arms out there to be had.
10. I wish Lester all the best with his new team. He is certainly one of the classier guys to don a Red Sox uniform, and he will be missed.
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