Tim Stebbins

Red Sox owner John Henry said team 'blew' Jon Lester negotiations in 2014

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USA TODAY

Red Sox owner John Henry said team 'blew' Jon Lester negotiations in 2014

As the saying goes, one person's loss is another person's gain. For the Cubs, this is especially true when it came to signing Jon Lester.

Lester entered spring training in 2014 on the last year of his contract with the Boston Red Sox. According to NBC Sports Boston's Justin Leger, the Red Sox reportedly offered Lester a four-year extension worth $70 million before the season started. 

As the story goes, the two sides did not agree to a new deal and the Red Sox traded Lester to the Oakland Athletics ahead of the 2014 trade deadline. Lester went on to sign a six-year, $155 million deal (with a vesting option for 2021) with the Cubs ahead of the 2015 season.

At a press conference on Monday, Red Sox owner John Henry admitted the team mishandled negotiations with Lester.

“I think we blew the Jon Lester — we blew the signing in spring training,” Henry said. “And for reasons that are pretty apparent now, which I won’t go into, but they’re apparent. But it wasn’t… you can see what’s gone on in free agency.

"The price of WAR has gone up radically that it’s difficult, whether it’s a pitcher or a position player, entering into a really long term contract with high dollars.”

The Red Sox are in a similar position now with former-White Sox starter Chris Sale, who will hit free agency after the 2019 season. Henry was asked if his philosophy has evolved regarding signing pitchers 30 years old or above.

“I think Chris [Sale] falls out of the norm because he’s just such a great — not just a great pitcher but a great part of the team as we saw in the World Series he had quite an impact just being on the bench during the World Series,” he said. “So he’s a special player.

“We would love to be able to sign him. I think he would like to as well. But there are the realities of the marketplace in budgets and this is his opportunity to be a free agent, so, potentially…something could happen.”

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Joe Maddon on soon-to-be retired Giants manager Bruce Bochy: 'A ton of respect'

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon on soon-to-be retired Giants manager Bruce Bochy: 'A ton of respect'

Longtime San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced Monday that he will retire following the 2019 MLB season.

Bochy, 63, is the longest-tenured manager in baseball; Cubs manager Joe Maddon is the fourth-most tenured, trailing Bochy, Terry Francona, Clint Hurdle.

Maddon said that Bochy will be missed following the latter's announcement on Monday.

Maddon was an American League manager with the Tampa Bay Rays for much of Bochy's managerial career. However, the two have had several memorable matchups since Maddon arrived in Chicago in 2015.

In August 2015, the Cubs entered a four-game series with the Giants trailing San Francisco by a half game for the second spot in the wild-card standings. The Cubs not only caught the Giants that weekend, but they won all four games, taking a 3.5 game lead over San Francisco.

To be fair, the Giants did win two of three against the Cubs later that month. However, that four-game series propelled the Cubs to their first postseason berth since 2008. Including their sweep over the Giants, the Cubs finished the month with a 19-9 record, tied for their most wins in a single month all season.

Cubs fans don't have to be reminded about the "other" recent big series against the Giants. The two sides squared off in the NLDS in 2016, a series that the Cubs won 3-1 to advance to the NLCS for the second-consecutive year.

The Cubs-Giants NLDS had a little bit of everything. Game 1 featured a pitchers' duel for the ages between Johnny Cueto and Jon Lester. With the game tied 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth, though, Javier Báez crushed a solo home run to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead, the game's eventual final score.

Game 2 pitted Kyle Hendricks against former-Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. Hendricks exited following 3 2/3 innings after taking a line drive off of his right forearm. Travis Wood entered the game in place of Hendricks, hitting a solo home run off of new-Cubs reliever George Kontos. The Cubs eventually won 5-2 to take a 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 was a 13-inning marathon that the Cubs lost 6-5. However, it was memorable for Jake Arrieta launching a three-run home run off of Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and Albert Almora Jr. robbing Buster Posey with a diving catch to end the nighth inning.

And then, to cap off a tremendous series, the Cubs rallied to erase a 5-2 deficit in the ninth inning of Game 4. The Cubs scored four runs off of five Giants relievers, taking a 6-5 lead before Aroldis Chapman slammed the door in the bottom half of the inning, clinching the series for the Cubs.

The Cubs and Giants face-off six times in 2019. Fans can take-in Bochy versus Maddon either July 22-24 in San Francisco or Aug. 20-22 in Chicago.

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MLBPA union chief Tony Clark calls Rob Manfred's comments on slow-moving free agency ‘unconstructive and misleading’

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USA TODAY

MLBPA union chief Tony Clark calls Rob Manfred's comments on slow-moving free agency ‘unconstructive and misleading’

MLB's war of words regarding its slow-moving offseason now is pitting MLB commissioner Rob Manfred against Tony Clark, executive director of the Players' Union. 

Sunday, Manfred implied that the players share at least some responsibility for baseball's lack of offseason activity.

“I’m not ascribing blame,” Manfred said on Sunday. “(But) I do think certain things can be an impediment to making agreements.

"When you’re pronouncing three years ahead of free agency that a player is going to be a $400 million player – and there’s never been a $400 million player in any sport – that becomes an impediment to the bargaining process. I do believe that.”

Superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned, though Manfred's comments likely were aimed at Harper. According to a report from December 2016, Harper was seeking a 10-year $400 million deal in free agency.

Manfred even called out Dan Lozano and Scott Boras — the respective agents of Machado and Harper — by name.

“Do I wish, if I had my way, that Scott Boras would find a way, or Dan Lozano – whoever, whatever agent – would find a way to make a deal with some club sooner rather than later? Yes, I do," he said.

"But we negotiated a system that allows the market to operate, and I have every confidence that for (top) players...the market is going to clear before we get to playing real games.”

Clark responded to Manfred's comments on Monday.

"Commissioner Manfred's latest comments and his attempts to shift blame and distract from the main issues are unconstructive and misleading at best," Clark said. "Players' eyes don't deceive them, nor do fans'."

MLB's current collective bargaining agreement expires following the 2021 season. It sure is going to be a long few years until then.

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