Jon Lester signs with the Nationals
There was some big news in baseball yesterday, some transactional and some much more disturbing than that, but we start here with a former Red Sox great signing with another team. That would be Jon Lester, who is leaving the Cubs after six years in Chicago and heading to our nation’s capital. The lefty signed a one-year deal with Washington on Tuesday. The deal is worth $5 million.
We’ll start with the obvious, which is that Lester is not who he used to be. That, of course, is not a surprise nor is it something to even hold against him at this point since the veteran is entering his age-37 season. He has pitched to an ERA over 4.00 in three of the last four seasons including a 5.16 ERA in last season’s shortened campaign. He also saw his strikeout rate fall below 16 percent last season, the lowest rate of his long career. Washington isn’t signing him to be an ace, though. They are signing him to fill a hole in the back of their rotation where he’ll pitch behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. They just need Lester to take the ball every five days and not be terrible. He has done that first part his entire career, having made all 12 scheduled starts last year and prior to that having not made fewer than 31 starts since 2007.
As far as the Red Sox go, it doesn’t seem like they ever were even considering bringing back Lester, which would have seemed like a no-brainer way to earn some goodwill from the fans. Granted, we are not privy to any negotiations so it’s possible Lester just didn’t want to come back, but if he was open to it the Red Sox should have been all over it. Yes, he’s not very good anymore, but is he that much worse than Martín Pérez? If they’re not going to be serious about contending in 2021, and all signs point to that being the case, why not at least bring back a former fan favorite and one of the best pitchers in recent franchise history?
Jared Porter sent lewd texts to female reporter
This broke late last night and it sure to be the story of the day in baseball. Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes of ESPN broke it, reporting that Mets GM Jared Porter had sexually harassed a female reporter. According to the report, back in 2016 Porter sent more than 60 messages that were ignored before he sent a naked photo to the reporter. After the story came out, Porter did apologize, though not before claiming “the more explicit ones are not of me. Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images.” The reporter has since left the industry.
Mets President of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson released the following statement: “I have spoken directly with Jared Porter regarding events that took place in 2016 of which we were made aware tonight for the first time. Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse and has previously apologized for his actions. The Mets take these matters seriously, expect professional and ethical behavior from all of our employees, and certainly do not condone the conduct described in your story. We will follow up as we review the facts regarding this serious issue.”
Obviously, there’s really not much I can say here on experience because I don’t have to deal with regular harassment, but this is an unfortunate truth that women have to deal with this kind of harassment far too often. This is a cultural and societal problem that needs to be solved. It won’t be solved with one simple firing, though that is absolutely what needs to happen. Porter, who was just hired in December, needs to go, and I would be surprised if he still has a job by the time we speak again tomorrow morning.
Update: Soon after this published, Mets owner Steve Cohen announced he had fired Porter.
We have terminated Jared Porter this morning . In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it.There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) January 19, 2021
Padres trade for Joe Musgrove
There’s no easy way to transition from that kind of story to a baseball trade, but here we go. The Padres have acquired another pitcher via trade, this time acquiring Pirates righty Joe Musgrove in a three-team deal. The Mets got Padres pitcher Joey Lucchesi, while the Pirates for five prospects in return.
The Padres part of this is, of course, the big one as they just continue to build a stellar pitching staff. San Diego has already acquired Blake Snell and Yu Darvish this winter, and now with Musgrove they have those three along with Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack, to say nothing of top prospect MacKenzie Gore and mid-season trade acquisition Mike Clevinger, who will return to the fold in 2022 after undergoing surgery this winter. They are still dealing with the Dodgers, but it’s very clear San Diego is at least one of the two best teams in baseball right now, and they are going for broke to build up this rotation. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this offseason is that they’ve been able to make all of these additions — including Clevinger over the summer — without trading their top prospects in Gore, CJ Abrams and Robert Hassell.
As for the other pieces, the Mets get a solid swingman in Lucchesi who also has the perfect name to play in New York. The Pirates, meanwhile, go with a quantity over quality approach. That’s not usually my favorite way to acquire prospects, but A) they need a whole lot so it makes some sense, B) Musgrove is good but not great, so they probably weren’t getting an elite prospect in return anyway, and C) Ben Cherington, while not a perfect GM, is good at developing prospects so getting more is not bad with him at the head of the front office.
Blue Jays sign Tyler Chatwood
The Blue Jays have been right up there with the Red Sox in terms of being “interested” in players without actually signing them. They did make an addition on Monday, though like Boston’s acquisitions this one is not exactly moving the needle a ton. Instead, they signed Tyler Chatwood to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
Chatwood looked like he had some potential to turn into a strong rotation arm earlier in his career, but control issues made that a tougher sell and he’s since been bouncing between the bullpen and rotation in Chicago. Last season he made five starts for the Cubs and finished with a 5.30 ERA, though he did show better swing and miss stuff than he had in the past. Right now it appears as though Chatwood will likely serve as a sixth starter for Toronto, starting in a bullpen role but serving as depth in case of injury.