Well this is a bit surprising. According to Gordon Wittenmeyer, the Chicago Cubs are not waiting for Jon Lester to decide where he wants to spend the next several years of his career, they are looking to upgrade their starting rotation in a very big way. Wittenmeyer reports that the Cubs and Washington Nationals are in discussions for a trade which includes Jordan Zimmerman.
Earlier reports suggested that the Boston Red Sox made a very strong contract offer to Lester for six years and north of $120 Million, which might be more than the Cubs are willing to go.
We figured Lester would get at least six years and north of $20 Million a year, but if the Red Sox are making an offer the Cubs felt was far more than they felt he was worth, than I do not have a problem with them looking elsewhere.
Zimmermann is a very good, younger right handed starting pitcher who has been an All Star the past two seasons. He would be an amazing add to the Cubs rotation, teaming with Jake Arrieta. If the rumors Wittenmeyer is putting out are true, and the Cubs do in fact trade for Zimmerman, you can close the book on Lester as I do not believe the Cubs would acquire both.
Wittenmeyer suggests that their is enough mutual interest between the Cubs and Nationals that names have been discussed. While no names have been reported, we can only guess as to who the Cubs would have to give up for such a talented pitcher who could be considered the “ace” of just about any staff around the league.
You would have to imagine the Cubs would have to put together a pretty good package involving at least one of their top prospects, and maybe a couple mid level players. However, the Nationals might want a player who is currently at the big league level; they might be asking for Starlin Castro back. In my opinion trading Castro for Zimmermann would be a little nuts, and a vast over pay. Although that would immediately open up short stop for Addison Russell who some scouts believe is already Major League ready.
One issue with trading away top talent like Castro or another stud minor league player, is that Zimmermann is one year away from free agency. The Cubs would be completely stupid to make a trade without guaranteeing that they are able to re-sign him. There is no sense in trading away one of your best players for a one year rental. That would be the dumbest thing Theo Epstein could ever do.
Wittenmeyer also suggests that the Cubs are also moving in on Justin Masterson who might be willing to sign a low ball, one year deal to rebuild some value after a down year.
Stay tuned guys, while this is the General Manager Meetings and deals typically only get started here, Wittenmeyer makes us think that a deal might well be close.
UPDATE: Gordo may have gotten played. Jesse Rogers, among others, says this deal isn’t happening. Sorry folks.