The Chicago Cubs officially introduced starting pitcher Jon Lester as the newest member of the organization on Monday afternoon.    

Fox Sports: MLB captured the moment on Twitter:

One thing that isn’t clear in that picture is the number Lester chose, No. 34. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune explained the significance:

It’s certainly no mistake that Lester chose the number of the last great Cubs ace. The expectations that come along with this signing are obviously high, and Theo Epstein certainly didn’t pretend otherwise as he was introducing Lester, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:

Lester wasn’t backing away from those expectations, per Dylan McGorty of 120 Sports:

His signing says a lot about the plan that has been put in place to reinvigorate the franchise, and Epstein acknowledged that Lester bought into that plan:

Lester also reinforced his belief in Epstein’s vision:

It was obvious throughout the press conference that Lester didn’t come to this decision lightly, however, even joking at one point that he received a number of interesting calls from Boston Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia, a close friend of his, per the MLB Network broadcast.

But Lester did his homework on Chicago before reaching a conclusion:

He also admitted that his mid-summer trade to the Oakland Athletics played a part in his decision to not return to Boston:

Lester noted that the trade helped him push past the uncertainty of pitching for a new team, which might have played into his decision had he never left Boston. The subtext, of course, is that it probably didn’t help that the Red Sox didn’t exactly make Lester a competitive offer to re-sign out of the gate. 

Ultimately, it was a great day for Cubs baseball, and Epstein paid service to baseball’s most patient fans, per MLB on Twitter:

Lester’s signing this winter was one of the biggest splashes in the MLB’s free-agency period, but it also was a landmark moment for the Cubs. It was an indication—along with the signing of manager Joe Maddon—that the Cubs are looking to transition from a rebuilding club with a ton of young assets to a contender this season.

There is a lot of pressure on Lester’s shoulders, and he’s now the face of the franchise that is desperately trying to end a legendary World Series drought. All indications on Monday are that he is more than up for the challenge.


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