The Cubs and Jon Lester agree to a six-year contract reportedly worth $155 million with a seventh year option worth $15 million, making him one of the highest paid players in baseball history. The multiyear deal, valued at about $25.8 million annually, is the richest ever given to a pitcher in free agency.
After a two-year battle with lymphatic cancer, Roger Maris dies in a Houston hospital at the age of 51. Former Yankees teammates Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, John Blanchard, and Bill Skowron along with Whitey Herzog and Bob Allison will as serve pallbearers.
The Dodgers trade third baseman Billy Cox and Preacher Roe, who will retire before the start of the season, to the Orioles for minor league prospects Harry Schwegeman and Johnny Jancse and $50,000. Brooklyn will use the cash as a bonus to sign a southpaw from Lafayette High School with control problems: Sandy Koufax.
The Mariners land the most sought-after free agent on the market when the team signs Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240-million contract, a value that equals Albert Pujols’ deal with the Angels for the third largest in baseball history. The Yankees, the 32-year-old’s former team, which did not want to commit those kinds of dollars or years for their All-Star second baseman, recently inked outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for $153 million (7 years) and catcher Brian McCann for $85 million (5 years).
In one of the most lopsided deals in baseball history, the Phillies trade ‘Pete’ Alexander to the Cubs, along with starting catcher Bill Killefer, for right-hander Mike Prendergast, who compiles a 13-15 record in his one-plus season with Philadelphia, and backup backstop William Dillhoefer, who plays a total of eight games for the team, batting .091. From 1918 to 1926, Alexander compiles a 128-83 record in a Cubs uniform en route to Hall of Fame career, which also includes playing for the Cardinals.
In one of the worst deals in franchise history, the Mets trade Nolan Ryan and three prospects to the Angels for six-time All-Star infielder Jim Fregosi. Ryan will set the all-time strikeout record (5,714) and will become a member of the Hall of Fame, while Fregosi (.232, 5, 32) plays less than two full seasons in New York, providing little help for the team.
Although having a 3-C draft deferment due to being the sole support of his family, Bob Feller, last year’s American League-leading pitcher with 27 victories for the Indians, becomes the first major leaguer to enlist after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The 23-year-old navy recruit has already won 107 major league games.
The Yankees trade two-time MVP Roger Maris to the Cardinals for third baseman Charley Smith. The former New York outfielder will play a key role in the Cards’ World Championship next season and will help the club win another pennant the following year, while New York’s newest infielder will hit only .224 during his two-year tenure in New York.
After refusing a $60 million, four-year extension from the Red Sox last winter, Nomar Garciaparra signs a one-year deal with the Cubs, the team he was traded to in July, for $8 million. The All-Star shortstop, who is coming off an injury-plagued season, can increase the value of the contract with bonus incentives based on performance and playing time to $11 million.
The Indians trade fan-favorite Minnie Minoso with Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese, and, Jake Striker to the White Sox for Norm Cash, Bubba Phillips, and John Romano. The 34-year-old ‘Cuban Rocket’ will play in every game for Chicago next season, leading the American League in hits (184) and stolen bases (13) while collecting a Gold Glove for his defensive play in left field.