Acquiring Jon Lester May Not Be A Good Idea


I’ve heard through the rumor mill that the Cardinals are at the very least keeping an eye on Jon Lester.

This makes sense from a distance, as we just recently traded Shelby Miller, leaving a possible hole. We have Michael Wacha, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be in the rotation come opening day. And we technically have two holes in the rotation. While I’m pretty confident that either Marco Gonzales or Carlos Martinez will fill one of those slots, who fills the other if Wacha doesn’t? That’s the question, and that’s supposedly why we’re keeping an eye on Lester.

Several problems I see though:

Lester’s Age – He’s on the other side of 30, so any deal four years or longer, which is undoubtedly what Lester and his agent are looking for, will be entering Lester’s decline phase.

Cost – The Cardinals, while they haven’t been hesitant to lock up talent to long term deals, typically prefer to grow their own talent (or acquire prospects via trade and develop them) rather than spend money on a big name free agent. Part of that is that it’s often cheaper to re-sign homegrown talent. Also there’s the fact that many free agents seek out ling term deals which, as mentioned above with Lester, often enter said free agents decline phase.

Flexibility: Signing a free agent to lucrative long term contract can limit a club’s financial flexibility. The Cardinals have an incredibly loyal fan base, but they do play in a midsize market and therefore have to keep an eye on their spending. Chances are they could afford Lester, but how would signing him affect the team down the road, especially since backloading contracts seems to be a popular trend these days.

Now don’t get me wrong, if we did acquire Lester, I’d be happy. He’d ease the pressure on the young starters and give us another proven arm in rotation, slotting in either the number two or three slot.

My view though, is that Lester is a want rather than a need. Sure we’d be better off with him, but if the cost and the length of the deal get too prohibitive, I think we can survive without him.

As always, thanks for reading.