Here's baseball's top paid pitchers this season:
Greinke - 26 - Dodgers
Cliff Lee - 25 - Phillies
Hamels - 23.5 - Phillies
Sabathia - 23 - NYY
The King - 22.8 - Mariners
Tanaka - 22 - NYY
Cain - 20.8 - Giants
Verlander - 20 - Tigers
Wainright, Buehrle, Beckett, Lincecum are the next 4.
The only guys worth the money on this list are younger than Lester, or are about the same age, but have been consistently better.
Overall, paying guys these contracts DOES NOT WORK!
NO TO FREE AGENTS IN THEIR 30s!!! At least when you're talking 5 years or more.
Oh. I forgot, "Well, you have to pay a premium for the first few years and you know you're overpaying on the back end. That's how it is." How many times did I hear that when arguing against Carl Crawford? How'd that work out. Great line of reasoning.
Also, 25 a year is NOT the "going rate" as many seem to think. That makes him tied for the SECOND HIGHEST IN THE MAJORS! Is Lester the 2nd best Starter in MLB? Does anyone REALLY want to make that case?
IFFFFFFFFF you are calling Lester an "Ace" (which I don't think he is), the "Going Rate" would be more like 20-22. The 4/70 was NOT an insult. It was a below market, team-friendly, "Hometown discount" type of deal. Kind of almost practically EXACTLY what Lester hinted at, publicly, all by himself.
Those 6 top contracts above belong to 4 teams - Angels, Yankees, Mariners, Phillies. Anyone want their rosters? Their salary situations going forward? Their playoff hopes both in the immediate and future? You can make a case for the Yankees...they have proven a willingness to spend more money than almost any other 2 teams combined, and it puts them in an entirely unique financial situation.
Off that list right now, I would take only TWO of those players with their contracts - The King and Tanaka.
Lester has done some great things in Boston. He also has had some inconsistencies and questionable attitude issues (sunflower seeds in the coaches face anyone? Remember his definition of an 'ace'? He was Beckett's #1 pal when Beckett was at his douchiest). On top of all of that...he'll be 30 when next season starts. It is what it is. You don't give 30 year old guys long contracts. You don't do it. It's not a good idea. It's never been a good idea. People need to get over their affection for professional athletes. Lester has done a LOT in Boston. He is OWED nothing. He has EARNED a nice payday. To OVERPAY is a large part of any recipe for team disaster. 25 a year is overpaying. 22.5 would be. 5/100 is pushing it for me. That is the absolute maximum I would ever consider, and I'm not sure I would do that. Perhaps 4/80, but I'm not interested in giving many 35 year old pitchers 20mil for a season.
I don't get wanting to give Lackey any extra money either. Was he worth the 5/82.5?
2010 - Pretty good. About equal to what he's doing now.
2011 - Below average. Attitude was atrocious. 2011 was horrible overall and he was a part of the problems.
2012 - Gone due to injury, afford him some slack from 2011 in retrospect.
2013 - Very nice year. His win total was a joke, he was a solid #2 on pretty much any team in baseball.
2014 - Pretty good again. Solid. He's a good 2 right now. Not spectacular by any means. A 3 on a top team with a good staff.
He was overpaid over the life of his contract. He should honor what he signed. I remember WHEN they signed him I basically thought "17.5 a year for HIM!? His IS the best pitcher on the market, wow." That was the year after the Yankees took the best pitcher off the market, Sabathia, and 'stole' Texeira. Also got the 2nd best pitcher off the market. AJ Burnett...and gave him an oddly familiar deal of 5/82.5. Gotta love the marketing machine. Lucchino sure does. Reactionary overpay.
Bad contracts, whether in-house or across the league, shouldn't be justification for more bad contracts. That's insane. Literally. "Keep trying! It will work THIS time!"..."THIS time!"..."THIS TIME!!!"..."Seriously though....THIS is TRULY. THE. TIME!!!!"