Now that Catcher Russell Martin is officially off the table, what does Theo & Co. do next?
The 1st move is trying to land free agent lefty Jon Lester. Rumors have it that the Cubs brass are meeting with Lester here in Chicago TODAY! Could we hear an announcement at some point in the next 24 hours?
It is going to be hard to pry Lester away from his comfort zone in Boston. Sure Red Sox owner John Henry “insulted” Lester last off-season with his embarrassing 5-year, $70 million offer, but the Red Sox are sure to put forth a better effort this time around. Gotta think the Red Sox will come back with a 6-year, $132 million deal ($22 per season). SO, if the Cubs really really WANT Lester, then they are going to have to top that by a bunch. A couple of more million a year might do the trick, but is it really worth it for the 31-year old lefty.
Theo & Co. always play it close to the vest. His recent comments on signing free agents is indicative of this stance: “Like most teams, we’ll always miss our on more free agents than we’ll sign. That’s just the nature of it. Free agency is not for the faint of heart. You have to go in knowing that you might look silly by pursing the player and not landing him and that’s OK. We’re prepared for that… The key to thriving in free agency is acknowledging all the risks, acknowledging all the variables, staying true to some attachment to value.”
The Cubs “stayed true to value” by not breaking the bank to sign Russell Martin. And in reality, they didn’t really need Martin at $17 million a year. Wellington Castillo is serviceable and he is holding down the fort until Kyle Schwarber and/or Mark Zagunis are ready to take over the helm in a year or two or three.
But an elite starting pitcher is a different story. Lester fits the bill even if you have to overpay him a bit. He is durable. He is a solid guy in the clubhouse. He can pitch in the post-season (2 World Series titles with the Red Sox). And even if he tails off at 35 and 36 (the final 2 years of his deal), if you really think you have a chance to win it all in 2016, 2017, etc., than Lester IS a perfect fit. Give him 2015 to get used to Chicago and the rabid fan base and what it’s like to play at Wrigley — when there isn’t that much pressure. And than go for broke in 2016 when you sign another top notch elite starter to go 1-2-3 with in the post-season with Lester, Jake Arrieta and Ace #3 to be named later.
Let’s make it happen Theo & Co. Let’s just make it happen…