The Chicago Cubs decide to let Jon Lester sign with the Washington Nationals on a team-friendly one-year deal.
Dec. 10, 2014. It was a Wednesday, not that the day of the week matters. More importantly, it turned out to be the day new Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon proclaimed, “The Cubs won the baseball lottery.”
Jon Lester said yes to his friend, Cubs president Theo Epstein by choosing the still-rebuilding Cubs and Wrigley Field over his familiarity with Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox. Less than two years later, Maddon’s pronouncement proved correct. No one player was more instrumental in the Cubs winning a World Series and ending a 108-year drought than October-November-clutch Lester.
By signing a contract with the Cubs, albeit a pact that was well over a total of $150 million, Lester sensed the Cubs were headed in the right direction when there was still some skepticism. Others, like World Series MVP-to-be Ben Zobrist, soon followed. The foundation set in place by Epstein was first validated from a two-time World Series champion. It mattered.
Lester saw a farm system rich in high-end talent, a manager he was comfortable with in Maddon and believed there were additional dollars to spend. In addition, he trusted Epstein to make the right decisions to put the final pieces in place.
While Lester had confidence in what the Cubs were doing, he did his part