The Jon Lester era will officially begin this afternoon, as the Cubs are set to introduce their top free-agent prize at 1 p.m. Central. Because of the Wrigley Field renovations, the press conference will take place at Spiaggia restaurant in downtown Chicago.
Lester took in the city over the weekend, and even attended the Chicago Blackhawks game last night. Here’s hoping Lester can be the Marian Hossa equivalent to the Cubs and help them become a continual contender, just like the Blackhawks.
To get ready for the press conference, you can read a Mark Gonzales article about Lester’s baseball upbringing in the Pacific Northwest. As usual, Lester comes off as a down-to-earth, humble star pitcher. I’m really looking forward to getting a first-hand view of how he pitches every fifth day.
* The Cubs have met with free-agent outfielder Colby Rasmus, according to Shi Davidi. At age 28, Rasmus would be an interesting option. He bats lefty and has some pop, though he struggled with the Blue Jays last season, hitting 225/.287/.448. But in 2013, he slashed a line of .276/.338/.501 with 22 home runs. Rasmus can be a high-strikeout guy — something the Cubs don’t need more of right now — but his upside might just be enough to gamble on.
* The entertaining offseason continues for the White Sox, as they reached an agreement with free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera on a three-year deal for between $42 million and $43.5 million. Cabrera was solid last year, hitting .301/.351/.458 for Toronto. I was expecting the Sox to spend some money this winter, but probably not at this level.
So far, they’ve added RHP Jeff Samardzija, closer David Robertson, first baseman Adam LaRoche, and reliever Zach Duke. The Sox have a few holes in the lineup — although Cabrera definitely helps with that — and they did have an AWFUL bullpen laster year, but they should be a really interesting team to watch next year. And very possibly really good.
* Bryce Harper skipped the Nationals’ annual NatsFest this past weekend because of an upcoming grievance hearing over his arbitration eligibility. It sounds like a huge mess, stemming from the Nats not including an opt-out clause in Harper’s contract, despite agent Scott Boras alleging that the team verbally agreed to it. It’s a shame to see; Harper’s one of the most exciting young players in the game, and you have to wonder what Washington is doing.