UPDATE: Bruce Levine reports that Lester’s $30 million signing bonus is included in the $155 million. Why it’s characterized as a signing bonus is still an interesting questions but, no, it’s not a $185 million deal.
11:36 AM: Just some added flavor to the deal the Cubs gave Jon Lester:
Lester’s signing bonus is $30 million, paid over the life of the contract, according to a source familiar with the terms.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 10, 2014
From what I can tell based on what everyone is saying, that’s on top of the $155 million, but we’ll certainly update that if it’s being misreported. If so, it’s a 6-year, $185 million contract. Yeah, I think it’s safe to say the Cubs wanted him.
As for why it’s being characterized as a $155 million deal with a “bonus” paid out over the life of the deal, which makes it functionally the same as additional salary: my guess is that it’s an ownership politics thing in which no one really wants to be the team that gave out the $30M+/year contract to a pitcher, so let’s just call it a bonus. Or there could be some luxury tax-avoidance issues in play for down the road.
Which, whatever. People aren’t idiots and can do math. But I can’t otherwise see why they’d structure it that way as opposed to just paying the man straight dough.