Last week Oakland A's General Manager "Billion Dollar" Billy Beane shocked the world of Major League Baseball (and the considerably smaller planet inhabited by Oakland fans) by trading away his power-hitting left fielder, Yoenis Cespedes, for Jon Lester, a Boston Red Sox left-hander who is by acclamation one of the best starting pitchers in the game.
Most of the deal was about the talent involved, but a good part of it was about contracts. Lester's is up this year, and he'll become a free agent. Cespedes becomes a free agent after next season. Both teams were dealing stars they figured they might not be able to hang onto in the long run.
In Lester's case, the nine-year veteran is parting from the only team he's ever played for. And those nine years were eventful ones: The team was in the postseason several times and won the World Series twice, with Lester playing a leading role (his career record in the Fall Classic is three wins and no losses).
You might think leaving for a new team is a big deal for Lester, and he confirmed that Sunday when he took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe. The ad puts us in mind of Barry Zito's full-page farewell to Giants fans after last season. Here's Lester's message:
Dear Red Sox Nation,
I have a lifetime of great memories of Boston highlighted by 2 World Championships! Boston will always be home and the love that Red Sox Nation has shown me is something that I will forever cherish. You are truly the best fans in the world! I have been blessed to play with the greatest teammates who are family to me. I want to thanks the Staff, Front Office and Ownership for always showing me respect and supporting me during the difficult times. This organization, the fans, and this city have embraced my family and me. My wife, my children, and I will always be grateful for the love and kindess that we have enjoyed in Boston. Thank y'all!
With all our love,
Jon and Farrah, Hudson, Walker and the Lester family!
And if you're wondering: NVRQT stands for "never quit," a campaign against pediatric cancer that's a major cause for Lester. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma during his first season in the majors, 2006, and survived to return to baseball in time for Boston's championship season in '07.