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Jon Lester agrees to 6-year, $155M deal with Cubs

Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox leaves

Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox leaves the field after batting practice before a game with Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on July 30, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty

SAN DIEGO -- It's a new day on the North Side. The pitiful Cubs, who last won a World Series in 1908, scored a major offseason victory late Tuesday night by locking up Jon Lester, one of the best playoff pitchers of this generation.

Lester agreed to terms on a six-year, $155-million contract, which according to Yahoo Sports was $20 million above the Red Sox's best offer. The Cubs edged Boston in the bidding hours after Lester informed a third team, the Giants, that he was not going to San Francisco.

Chicago had yet to officially announce the deal, but Joe Maddon, the new Cubs manager, spoke about Lester in the hotel lobby after returning from dinner. Maddon said he received a text telling him the deal was done at about 10:15 p.m. PST.

"It's not often you get to win the lottery," Maddon said. "We won the baseball lottery so far this year, but now it's up to us to put it into effect. It's all theory right now. We've got to make it real. But you need pieces like this to make it real."

Lester, who turns 31 next month, is a three-time All-Star but never has finished higher than fourth for the Cy Young Award, which he has done twice. He helped the Red Sox win two World Series, first in 2007 and again in '13. In three Fall Classic starts, he's 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA. Overall in the playoffs, he has a 2.57 ERA in 14 appearances, including 12 starts.

If the Cubs hope to break their own hex, as the Red Sox snapped the 86-year Curse of the Bambino in '04, they're going to need Lester on the mound to help make that happen. Maddon figured the thought may have crossed Lester's mind in choosing to reunite with his former Red Sox general manager, Theo Epstein -- now the Cubs' president of baseball operations -- to help make history at Wrigley Field.

"I wouldn't doubt that at all," Maddon said. "He's been there before. He understands what it feels like. I want to believe that he could foresee the same thing happening here."

The Giants, as the defending world champions playing in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park, made a serious push for Lester. But assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters early Tuesday that he had the sense Lester was being pulled more toward Boston and Chicago based on his personal connections to both clubs.

Maddon, whose Rays faced Lester plenty in the AL East, made what amounted to a recruiting call to Lester before Thanksgiving. The Yankees were never involved with Lester, but did have a preferred destination for him: anywhere but Boston.

"Obviously we know how good of a pitcher he is," manager Joe Girardi said. "We've had the experience of facing him for a long time. So if he wants to go to the National League, that's OK with all of us."

"To possibly get this opportunity to work with him for the first time is very exciting."

Maddon, whose Rays faced Lester plenty in the AL East, made what amounted to a recruiting call to Lester before Thanksgiving. The Yankees were never involved with Lester, but did have a preferred destination for him -- anywhere but Boston.

"Obviously we know how good of a pitcher he is," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We've had the experience of facing him for a long time. So if he wants to go to the National League, that's OK with all of us."

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