Cubs’ Jon Lester scoffs at allegations brought against agents in lawsuit
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MESA, Ariz. — Cubs left-hander Jon Lester said a lawsuit alleging his agents for years have steered clients to providers of performance-enhancing drugs doesn’t change his relationship and trust with the ACES sports agency, and he scoffed at the suggestion the proceedings could affect him.
“It doesn’t strain anything on my end,” said Lester, who learned about the lawsuit when one of his representatives called Lester as he was on a golf course.
“I’m sure they called all their clients and say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get a tee shot right here. I don’t -really care.’ ”
The lawsuit, first reported by Jon Heyman of Fanragsports.com, was filed last week in New York State Supreme Court by Juan Carlos Nunez, a former employee of ACES, one of the largest agencies representing baseball players.
Nunez, who was banned from baseball for his role in a fake-website scam and PED case involving Melky Cabrera in 2012 (later serving prison time for PED-related crimes), alleges that brothers Sam and Seth Levinson, who run ACES, were directly involved in sending clients to PED providers, according to the report.
The suit seeks $2.5 million in unpaid commissions and fees or expenses.
Nunez claimed responsibility for the 2012 wrongdoing at the time, and the Levinsons were not held liable after a union investigation, but were “censured” by the union, according to multiple reports — some of which suggest more names of ACES clients could emerge during the legal process.
“When I first signed with those guys, they were going through all the b.s. with the Melky Cabrera stuff and the website,” said Lester, who was brought into the agency when trusted longtime rep Josh Yates joined ACES. “But MLB didn’t find anything that they did wrong. I feel like once MLB kind of said, ‘Hey, you’re fine,’ you’re fine. Now six or seven years later, this guy wants to come back and try to make some money or maybe bring those guys down.”
Lester shrugged off any possible concerns over guilt by association, despite the seriousness of the allegations.
“Why would I be guilty by association?” he said. “For what? [Nunez] was the guy that did everything. And then there was no association between them and him. That was proven in the investigation. And how I look at it is I was a good pitcher before them, and I’m a pretty good pitcher after them.
“I think everybody uses their agents in different ways, and the way I use my agent is [negotiating a] contract and to help me with my equipment, and then I’ll see you guys when you guys come into town.”
ACES negotiated Lester’s six-year, $155 million contract before the 2015 season.
The Cubs’ top front-office executives, who have maintained strong working relationships with the Levinsons and their clients dating back to their Red Sox days, are reserving judgment and say it doesn’t affect how they do business with them.
“I don’t feel like I know enough to comment at this point,” said general manager Jed Hoyer, the team’s point man with many of the club’s dealings with ACES. “All I’ve seen so far is they’ve filed a lawsuit. I think I have to have a lot more information before I make any comments.”
Clients who played for Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein when they ran the Red Sox’ front office include Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Lowell.
Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.