Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lester Decision Looming

Sorry, San Francisco Giants fans, but it looks like Jon Lester won't be joining Madison Bumgarner in your team's rotation next year.

Apparently Lester, already a two-time World Series champion with Boston, wasn't swayed by the Giants' recent title--their third in five years. He also couldn't be bothered to move out to San Francisco, where he'd benefit from one of the MLB's friendlier parks for pitchers.

So with two days of winter meetings in the books, the three-time All-Star appears to be deciding between two teams; his former Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

Both sides offer compelling reasons for him to accept their offer. The Red Sox have history with Lester. They were his first big league team and, until last summer, his only big league team. He's said all along that Boston was his first choice and that he'd willingly take a hometown discount to stay there. Unfortunately, the Red Sox took that to mean that he'd accept roughly half of what he was worth, a misstep that may come back to bite them if he rejects their final offer.

The Cubs' front office features many former members of Boston's organization that were there during Lester's development, including former Sox GM and current Cubs president Theo Epstein. There's also the allure of ending the franchise's century-long title drought, which extends back to 1908. Remember that a big reason why Curt Schilling chose Boston was the opportunity to help the Sox reverse the curse. Chicago also has the larger (confirmed) offer, albeit slightly.

Lester looks like he'll make a decision soon, and I'm all but certain he's going back to Boston. The Red Sox may have stumbled at first, but they've made it abundantly clear how much they want him in their rotation for the foreseeable future (John Henry's been campaigning like a politician over the past few days). Their offer is competitive, and they offer the security and familiarity Lester values. Even if the Cubs outbid the Sox, I can't imagine Lester leaving over a few million dollars. If the dollar values are similar, which they appear to be, then he's not getting shortchanged by Boston in the slightest. Chicago can't woo him away with an offer that barely tops Boston's.

If Lester really loves the Red Sox as much as he claims to, then he'll put his money where his mouth is and come home.

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