Jon Lester Would've Returned to the Cubs on the Cheap

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Jon Lester Would’ve Returned to the Cubs on the Cheap

Chicago Cubs

When Jon Lester signed with the Washington Nationals on a deal that will pay him just $2 million in 2021, and then a deferred signing bonus of $3 million in 2023, it was clear that the Chicago Cubs could have had him back on a very affordable deal.

And while it may have seemed, then, a logical conclusion that the Cubs just didn’t want Lester back and instead wanted to give those innings to youngsters or reclamation projects, the reality is that the Cubs *did* want Lester back. So, you can really only conclude that money is so tight that whatever offer the Cubs made to Lester was a joke. Say what you will about that being the fate that awaits one of the most important players in Chicago Cubs history, who himself wanted one more go with the Cubs.

Lester, officially signed as a National today, spoke with the media and his comments will not make you happy:

Yes, we can all see where the Cubs are headed, and although they might not be bad in 2021, it won’t be because they made reasonable moves to affirmatively improve the team. Moreover, the admission by Lester that he told the Cubs he would play for just about anything this year (when money is tight) and defer the rest (when revenues should return), again, it says a lot.

As we’ve discussed, you can make the argument that moving on from Lester for baseball reasons in 2021 is an appropriate move. We know the trajectory for the 37-year-old, and we know what 2020 looked like. The likelihood that Lester contributes 150+ excellent innings to a division-winner in 2021 is quite small. If the Cubs aren’t going to be going all out in 2021 in any case, then maybe better to allocate those innings to guys you’d like to find out more about what you have in them.

But again, the Cubs did make an offer, so it wasn’t solely about wanting those innings to go elsewhere. They know Lester’s value as a Cubs legend, his value in the clubhouse as a leader, and his value as a steady presence in the rotation if things should happen to break right this year. I suppose the only decent thing in all this is the reveal that Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts was involved in the conversations, which is not typical for the owner, but absolutely should have been the case when you’re talking about someone like Jon Lester. Not that it mattered.

It’s impossible to take much away from the way this played out other than: the money wasn’t there. The very, very small amount of 2021 money it would’ve taken was not there. And now you are left to wonder just how tight the Cubs are anticipating things will be after 2021.

I guess I’ll go back to watching the Lester farewell video and thinking about how important he has been to the Cubs.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.