Blue Jays hindsight: The 2014 Jon Lester contract offer


In a story of what might have been, the Blue Jays reportedly offered Jon Lester a free agent contract of five years and $125 million after the 2014 season

Spring training is supposed to be relaxing.

Like the first days back from summer vacation in grade school, the opening of spring training is typically about meeting new teammates and settling in with a light, care-free workload. Not in 2016.

It’s been a week of Jay Bruce non-trades and Jose Bautista contract drama that is beginning to play out in the public eye. For a breather, we look back on this piece of news from yesterday’s Jeff Blair Show, in which Jeff Passan dropped some information from last offseason.

Just over one year ago, Jon Lester was the hot Blue Jays “thing”. An opportunity for the Blue Jays to establish a true ace atop their rotation.

The former Red Sox ace eventually signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, where he got a strong start in 2015. With a 3.34 ERA and 2.92 FIP over 205.0 innings, the left-hander earned a 5.0 WAR.

Toronto’s five-year limit, which now appears to be out the door, appeared to be at work here.

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It’s fascinating to reach back in a franchise’s transaction history and play a game of “what if”. For example, what if the Blue Jays chose to pluck an outfielder off the waiver wire for free in August of 2008 instead of shipping Robinson Diaz to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a largely average outfielder named Jose Bautista.

With Lester atop the 2015 rotation, do the Blue Jays pull the trigger on (or need) a David Price at the deadline?

Would having Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd still in the fold impact some of the moves Toronto has made this offseason? I’d argue that a healthy and performing Norris would have impacted the addition of fellow lefty J.A. Happ.

Furthermore, with Lester in blue and white, would Marco Estrada have been given the same opportunity to surprise over a consistent workload in the starting rotation? The domino-effect continues to trickle down, and while it’s a little early to be reliving a hypothetical, many Blue Jays fans are already in need of an early break from reality this spring.