Just like that, there is a new face for the next era of Cubs baseball.
Jon Lester represents so many things for this organization and now it seems he will signal an acceleration of the baseball plan. The focus will shift from building and development into winning, and winning now.
The chatter for most of the day yesterday surrounding Lester was that he was headed towards Chicago.
Yet, even during a conversation I had last evening prior to the agreement, I learned the holdup wasn’t related to money or even another prospective team, but to the Cubs’ commitment towards winning now. They had to convince Lester that their time was now.
Lester very much wanted to be a part of bringing a winner to Chicago; he just didn’t want to be the lone dog in the process simply relying on the kids. When Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal intimated the other evening that if the Cubs were to land Mr. Lester, they would then be in the market to add a big bat, those words served a real purpose.
If #Cubs get Lester, industry source says next move would be to pursue big bat and try to accelerate revival. A bat in addition to Montero.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2014
Theo Epstein explained this adjustment in strategy to Jesse Rogers.
“When there is a potential impact player involved, it does shape a little bit the course of your short-term thinking,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said last week. “If you get a player that makes a significant difference for you in the standings, then you prioritize creating a winning roster immediately around that player, whereas if the offseason goes in a slightly different direction, you just continue to build more organically and continue to think more longer term. It’s not an extreme, it’s not two absolutes, but, obviously, you look at things a little bit different.”
The Cubs are now looking at not only trying to compete next year but be contenders. To take that leap it will require another veteran stick in addition to Miguel Montero, which they are currently looking for. They may not be done adding pitching after the Jason Hammel move either.
Names like Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez, the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford have all been mentioned; Atlanta’s Justin Upton is out there, however the biggest fish (or Ray) that may be available is Evan Longoria.
If Longoria is available, he makes way too much sense for the Cubs not to pursue the option hard. He already has strong ties with the other new face of the Cubs, Joe Maddon. Longoria not only brings you that big veteran bat, but he would be the ultimate lieutenant that Maddon has said previously that he is seeking.
I would do whatever it takes, preferably short of Kris Bryant or Jorge Soler, to try to make that happen.
Kenny Williams told his White Sox fandom it was time for them to be able to “dream big again.” It seems that, as of today, that message could be applied to the North Side as well.