Lester, Cubs agree to $155 million, six-year contract

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Sources: Lester Agrees To Deal With Cubs



SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Jon Lester agreed Tuesday night to a $155 million, six-year contract with the Cubs, the first big deal of the offseason involving a top-level starting pitcher and one Chicago hopes will help end more than a century of frustration at Wrigley Field's Friendly Confines.

Lester's contract, agreed to on the second day of baseball's winter meetings, contains an option for 2021 that, if it becomes guaranteed, would make the deal worth $170 million over seven seasons. The average annual value of $25.8 million is the second-highest for a pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw's $30.7 million as part of a $215 million, seven-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers that began this year.

"It's not often you get to win the lottery, and we won the baseball lottery this year," new Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Now it's up to us to put it into effect."

A three-time All-Star who turns 31 next month, Lester won two World Series titles with Boston. The left-hander joins a long-suffering team with a promising core of young players and a top-tier manager, Maddon, who left Tampa Bay and signed a $25 million, five-year contract with the Cubs.

Now, Chicago has an ace to lead the rotation as it tries to end a run of five straight losing seasons and a championship drought that dates to 1908.

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Lester, Cubs agree to $155 million, six-year contract

Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox during photo day at City of Palms Park on February 26, 2006 in Ft. Myers, Florida. 

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Oakland A's on September 26, 2007 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

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The Boston Red Sox celebrated after sweeping the Colorado Rockies in four games to win the 2007 World Series in four games. The Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3 at Coors Field Sunday October 28, 2007. 

Photo Credit: Karl Gehring, The Denver Post/Getty Images

Starting pitcher Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with the trophy in the locker room after winning Game Four by a score of 4-3 to win the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series in a four game sweep of the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 28, 2007 in Denver, Colorado.

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Pitcher Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox watches his team from the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field July 1, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after throwing a no hitter against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on May 19, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox deals to the New York Yankees on July 3, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Pitcher Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch during a game against the Oakland A's on May 25, 2008 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California. Oakland won 6-3. 

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Jon Lester #31of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park, April 8, 2009, in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on July 30, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts The Red Sox defeated the Athletics 8 to 5. 

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox poses during photo day at the Boston Red Sox Spring Training practice facility on February 28, 2010 in Ft. Myers, Florida.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox lays on the mound after being hit in the knee by the New York Yankees Melky Cabrera #53 line drive during the game on September 25, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox wears a special edition hat in honor of Memorial Day as the Red Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on May 30, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox prepares to throw during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester delivers against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, May 30, 2011.

Photo Credit: Winslow Townson, AP Photo

John Lackey #41 and Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox congratulate teammate Kelly Schoppach #10 following their win against the Detroit Tigers during the game on July 30, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. 

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Starting Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, pitches during a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park in Boston.

Photo Credit: Aram Boghosian, The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game in Fort Myers, Fla., Sunday, March 17, 2013. 

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up two run against the Cleveland Indians in the 3rd inning at Fenway Park on May 25, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester delivers against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of a baseball game on Sunday, June 16, 2013, in Baltimore. 

Photo Credit: Nick Wass, AP Photo

Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox hugs Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 after the Red Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers 20-4 on September 4, 2013 at Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts. 

Photo Credit: Michael Ivins, Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

This multiple exposure image shows Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester throwing during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston.

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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester throws in the outfield before Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston.

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Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Koji Uehara jumps into David Ross's arms after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in Boston. The Red Sox won 6-1 to win the series. 

Photo Credit: Matt Slocum, AP Photo

Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with his son Hudson and wife Farrah Stone Johnson after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in Game Six of the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park on October 30, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after walking a man in the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on July 20, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox looks in to the catcher before he delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning in a MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on June 28, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox throws in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park on July 20, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Oakland Athletics pitches in the in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals during the American League Wild Card game at Kauffman Stadium on September 30, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Jon Lester #31 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at O.co Coliseum on September 24, 2014 in Oakland, California.

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Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester looks into the seats after the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Chicago.

Photo Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP Photo

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Lester was dealt by the Red Sox to Oakland at the trade deadline in July and helped the A's reach the playoffs for the third straight year before a 9-8, 12-inning loss to Kansas City in the AL wild-card game. He went 16-11 with a career-best 2.46 ERA and 220 strikeouts last season and is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA in nine big league seasons.

He also had been sought by the Red Sox, World Series champion San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lester is headed to a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2008, but he knows Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer from their time together in Boston.

Maddon had been used to small payrolls in Tampa Bay.

"I've not been on this side since my days with the Angels, when I got an email in Italy that we had signed Vladimir Guerrero," said Maddon, who was a coach in Anaheim before switching to Tampa Bay. "I think that definitely sends that message how Theo and the group feel about this particular group. But understand, we have a lot of young players that have to grow up as quickly as possible. But having Jon there adds to the flavor and the possibility."

The Cubs' management is making over the team in a big way.

Chicago has a pending $20 million, two-year deal with right-hander Jason Hammel, traded by the Cubs to Oakland last summer. Earlier Tuesday, the Cubs acquired All-Star catcher Miguel Montero from Arizona for minor league right-handers Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley - a deal that added $40 million in payroll over the next three years.

Chicago's rotation is likely to also include Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood, and Kyle Hendricks.

The Cubs also have a pair of All-Stars in the batting order in first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro and expect improved performances from young sluggers Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. Ahead is another wave of prospects that includes third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Addison Russell.

Maddon hopes an addition such as Lester helps change the mindset in the clubhouse when spring training starts in February.

"It definitely makes it more believable to everybody else in that room," he said. "I'll stand up and make the same speech regardless, but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it."

Related Gallery: Other Notable MLB Acquisitions

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MLB Major Transactions 2014
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Lester, Cubs agree to $155 million, six-year contract

3B Pablo Sandoval: Agreed to terms with Boston Red Sox

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images

SS/OF Hanley Ramirez: Agreed to terms with Boston Red Sox

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

1B Justin Smoak: Agreed to terms with Toronto Blue Jays

Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien, Getty Images

OF Torii Hunter: Agreed to terms with Minnesota Twins

Photo Credit: Tom Olmscheid, AP Photo

OF Nick Markakis: Agreed to terms with Atlanta Braves

Photo Credit: Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images

OF/DH Nelson Cruz: Agreed to terms with Seattle Mariners

Photo Credit: Nick Wass, AP Photo

LHP Andrew Miller: Agreed to terms with New York Yankees

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP Photo

SS Didi Gregorius: Acquired via trade by New York Yankees

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri, AP File Photo

RHP Shane Greene: Acquired via trade by Detroit Tigers

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP Photo

LHP Robbie Ray: Aquired via trade by Arizona Diamondbacks

Photo Credit: Keith Srakocic, AP Photo

1B/OF Brandon Moss: Acquired via trade by Cleveland Indians

Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren, AP Photo

OF Yasmany Tomas: Agreed to terms with Arizona Diamondbacks

Photo Credit: Koji Sasahara, AP File Photo

RHP David Robertson: Agreed to terms with Chicago White Sox

Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson, AP Photo

RHP Jeff Samardzija: Acquired via trade by Chicago White Sox

Photo Credit: Pat Sullivan, AP Photo

RHP Chris Bassitt: Acquired via trade by Oakland Athletics

Photo Credit: Duane Burleson, Getty Images

INF Marcus Semien: Acquired via trade by Oakland Athletics

Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien, Getty Images

C Josh Phegley: Acquired via trade by Oakland Athletics

Photo Credit: Rob Tringali, Getty Images

LHP Jon Lester: Agreed to terms with Chicago Cubs

Photo Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP Photo

Reported: SS Jimmy Rollins Acquired by Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton, Getty Images

Reported: OF Yoenis Cespedes acquired via trade by Detroit Tigers

Photo Credit: Matthew J. Lee, The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Reported: RHP Rick Porcello acquired via trade by Boston Red Sox

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga, Getty Images

Reported: OF Matt Kemp acquired via trade by San Diego Padres

Photo Credit: Victor Decolongon, Getty Images

Reported: 2B Howie Kendrick acquired via trade by Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo Credit: Alex Gallardo, AP Photo

RHP Justin Masterson: Agreed to terms with Boston Red Sox

Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien, Getty Images

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