Jon Lester will be signing with the Chicago Cubs, according to Ken Rosenthal. Jeff Passan has the details, noting that the Cubs will be paying $155 M for six years.
Sources: Lester to #Cubs.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 10, 2014
Jon Lester, Cubs agree on six-year, $155M deal, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Red Sox are runners-up. Their final bid: six for $135M.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 10, 2014
Two thoughts on this deal that are Pirates-related. The first thought is the obvious one, that this isn’t the best news seeing the Cubs landing a top starting pitcher. They have been loading up on top young hitting talent, and just need the pitching. They also have a lot of money to spend on pitching, as shown by giving Lester almost $26 M per year over six years. They could probably sign another top starter next year as well. That’s going to make them a dangerous team in the future, and will only make the NL Central that much more difficult.
The second thought is that Lester signed for about $26 M per year, while Francisco Liriano is signing for about $13 M per year and three years less of a commitment. Here are the comparisons of the two pitchers over the last two seasons.
Liriano: 3.20 ERA, 3.26 xFIP, 323.1 IP
Lester: 3.10 ERA, 3.49 xFIP, 433 IP
The innings pitched are very significant. Lester averaged about 55 innings more per season than Liriano. But the two pitched about on the same level the last two seasons, with Liriano having the edge in xFIP. If they’re both pitching the same when healthy, then is Lester’s extra 55 innings worth an extra $13 M, plus an extra commitment of about $78 M over three additional years? Looking at the two deals, and that one key difference, it seems that either the Cubs are paying a premium for Lester, or the Pirates are getting a huge value with Liriano.
Either way, it’s good that Liriano is in the mix already, since the starting pitching market is about to heat up with Lester off the board.