If it wasn’t evident before, the past 24 hours have proven that Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs are ready to win right now. Not only did the hiring last month of Joe Maddon get the fanbase excited, but now the Cubs have added an entirely new battery to anchor their push for 2015 – the second best pitcher on the free agent market, Jon Lester, and All Star catcher Miguel Montero who they acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lester could earn $170 million over 7 years if the #Cubs pick up his option in 2021.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 10, 2014
With the addition of Lester and Montero, the Cubs immediately become arguably the second most talented team in the NL Central, behind the St. Louis Cardinals. The addition of these two All Stars with the already impressive nucleus of Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood and others gives Maddon a vast array of weapons at his disposal to stake his claim at the central.
At 73-89 last season, the Cubs were already showing great progress in their rebuilding process. In a division where very few moves have been made outside of the Cardinals acquiring Jason Heyward, the Cubs are positioning themselves to make great strides towards a playoff berth. The Pittsburgh Pirates have re-signed Francisco Liriano to a three-year, $39 million contract while the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds have remained relatively quiet.
In Lester, the Cubs are acquiring a veteran pitcher who will not only produce for the Cubs but will also serve as a great leader within such a young clubhouse and rotation. The three-time All Star has won double-digit games in six of his nine professional seasons and was highly regarded not only in Boston but around the league as well. His experience and team-first mentality will do wonders for the winning persona that Maddon is attempting to instill within the Cubs organization.
The Cardinals are still the favorites in the Central, and rightfully so. However, the growth of the young Cubs combined with these latest additions have given Chicago a leg up on the rest of the division. The Cubs have made big moves in the past that didn’t pan out (Alfonso Soriano), but they were signings that seemed to lack a plan. These acquisitions by Epstein’s group shows there is finally a true plan in place, and now they are just adding the few final pieces of the puzzle.
Cover Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
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