Jon Lester gives Cubs the thumbs-up to bring Jonathan Papelbon aboard

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The Cubs have been rumored to have interest in free agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals released the right-hander on Saturday after he put up a disappointing 4.37 ERA in 35 innings of work, forcing them to trade for All-Star closer Mark Melancon.

Papelbon also has a sordid history of bad behavior, which includes throwing at Manny Machado‘s head and choking Bryce Harper in the Nationals’ dugout last year, as well as crotch-chopping in the direction of the home crowd in Philadelphia in 2014. Papelbon has also been known to watch pornography and play obnoxious politically-themed music in the clubhouse.

Nevertheless, Cubs starter Jon Lester, who was a teammate of Papelbon’s on the Red Sox from 2006-11, would be completely fine if his current team were to bring in the oft-troubled reliever, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reports.

Lester said, “[Papelbon] is crazy. But he’s no crazier than the rest of us. He just gets a bad rap for what happened in the dugout. Knowing Papelbon, I’ve always had good things to say about him as a teammate, how he respects the game and how he goes about his business.”

Lester continued, “People are quick to jump to the conclusions based on one event. I think he’s a great teammate. Like I said, I don’t think he’s any crazier that the rest of us. I think he still has a lot to give.”

Kyle Gibson, Orioles finalize 1-year, $10M contract

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SAN DIEGO – Right-hander Kyle Gibson and the Baltimore Orioles finalized a one-year, $10 million contract.

The 35-year-old would receive a $150,000 assignment bonus if traded, payable by the receiving team. He also can earn a $25,000 bonus if he is elected or selected for the All-Star team. Gibson was an All-Star in 2021.

Gibson was 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 31 starts for Philadelphia last season. He also pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances in the postseason for the NL champions.

Baltimore gained another experienced arm as it looks to build on its surprising season. After losing 110 games the previous year, the Orioles contended for an AL wild card for much of the summer before finishing 83-79 for the franchise’s first winning record since 2016.

Gibson was an AL All-Star in 2021, going 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 starts for Texas. He was traded to Philadelphia that July, and he went 4-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 appearances for the Phillies down the stretch.

The 6-foot-6 Gibson was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Twins in 2013.

He spent his first first seven seasons with Minnesota, going 67-68 with a 4.52 ERA in 193 games, including 188 starts. He had his best year in 2018, finishing with a career-low 3.62 ERA in a career-best 196 2/3 innings.

Gibson, who signed a $28 million, three-year contract with Texas in December 2019, is 89-91 with a 4.52 ERA in 267 major league games.