The Jon Lester signing marks the beginning of Phase three of the Cubs rebuild. Phase one saw Theo and Jed strip the team of veterans with overpriced contracts. Phase two saw the acquisition of long term assets through the draft , free agent international signings, and short term assets that could be flipped for long term assets.
This new third phase is about acquiring free agents to complement the long term assets. It is about free agents calling the Cubs to come play instead of the other way around. It is about putting butts in the seats. It is about inspiring the fan base. It is about marketing, TV ratings, radio, and cable TV. But most of all, it is about winning. And that’s the way it should be.
I think the Lester signing is a franchise shifter. The focus has changed. The Joe Maddon signing was unexpected and nice, but with the Lester signing, the Cubs said, “We’re back in business.” When I published a checklist of what I thought I would like to see stuffed in my stocking, I didn’t think they would get everything with two weeks to go before Christmas.
Moving forward, the Cubs still need that everyday center fielder and I think they may add another arm. My preference would be Brandon McCarthy over Justin Masterson. The Lester signing is only the beginning. He pushes Arrieta back to 2, Hammel to 3. Hendricks to 4, and Wood/Wada/Jackson/Straily/Dubront/Turner back to 5. That’s a lot of arms. The Cubs are lucky to have such depth and could move 1-2 of those arms to get a bat.
I like the fact that the Cubs did not give anyone to get Lester. I like the fact that Duane Underwood, CJ Edwards, Pierce Johnson, and Jen-Ho Tseng are still Cubs and can develop their arsenals without being rushed to get here in the next 3 years. The ripples of this signing will affect all aspects of this entire organization for 2015 and years to come. This is the tipping point when the Cubs truly opened for business under Theo.