Earlier today we reported that free agent starter Jon Lester had agreed on a six-year, $155 million with the Chicago Cubs.
While the basic structure of the deal is correct, the baseball world is just learning about the additional details and incentives of the contract.
Needless to say, if you thought $155 million was a lot of money for Lester, you may want to sit down for this.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Lester’s deal with the Cubs could be worth an additional $25 million before the end of the deal.
In addition to a boatload of cash, Lester’s agents wrangled a full no-trade clause and a $25 million vesting option for 2021 with a $10 million buyout.
Sources indicate that the 2021 option vests if he pitches 200+ innings in 2020 or 400+ combined innings in 2019 and 2020.
Lester has surpassed the 200 inning plateau in six of his seven years as a full-time starter, just missing the mark with 191.2 innings in 2011. If he can stay healthy into his mid-thirties, it shouldn’t be a struggle for Lester to hit the vesting option.
If Lester’s 2021 option vests that turns this into a seven-year, $180 million contract, which would blow the San Francisco Giants hypothetical seven-year, $168 million offer out of the water.
At the very least, even if the Cubs buyout Lester’s option year, he’s guaranteed $165 million.
I guess now it’s your move, Max Scherzer.
Note: An earlier version of this post indicated that Lester could make up to $210 million between bonuses and incentives. This was based on incorrect reports that Lester’s $30 million signing bonus was on top of the $155 million that had already been reported. That information was incorrect. The $30 million signing bonus is part of the $155 million total. Lester receives $20 million up front and another $10 million spread over the life of the contract. The content of this article has been updated to reflect the new information.