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White Sox win over free agent Cabrera

Cabrera, who was pursued by Seattle, signed a three-year deal with the White Sox. (Associated Press)
Cabrera, who was pursued by Seattle, signed a three-year deal with the White Sox. (Associated Press)
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The White Sox’s stealth pursuit of free agent Melky Cabrera paid off late Saturday when the former Blue Jays outfielder agreed to a three-year deal.

MLB.com confirmed Cabrera agreed to a deal worth an estimated $42-43.5 million, pending a physical.

The move gives the Sox some much-needed on-base percentage from the left-field spot, and another table-setter to join Adam Eaton. They’ve been in discussions with the Mariners on Dayan Viciedo, who also had pursued Cabrera. The signing suggests Vicideo is all but gone in a trade, whether it’s Seattle or another A.L. team.

Between Adam La Roche, David Robertson and Cabrera, the Sox have now spent over $113 million on three key free agents while filling holes at DH, closer and left field. They also acquired A’s starter Jeff Samardzija in a six-player deal. It’s the biggest offseason since general manager Rick Hahn took over, and indicates they’re looking to win now, as manager Robin Ventura reiterated at the winter meetings.

“We were setting ourselves up to do something at this winter meetings,” he said, “The last couple years, there really were not a lot of opportunities. We had a couple trades, but nothing of this magnitude. So that’s the part where you’re changing the mood and the view of how people see it.”

The switch-hitting Cabrera is a career .286 hitter with a .339 on-base percentage. His best season was in 2012 when Cabrera was the All-Star Game MVP and was leading the N.L. with a .346 average in mid-August while posting a .390 OBP.

The Sox will surrender a third-round draft pick for signing Cabrera, after giving up a second-rounder for signing Robertson.

Lester’s deal a record

Jon Lester set MLB records for largest signing bonus and biggest upfront payment with his $155 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The pitcher’s contract calls for a $30 million signing bonus, of which $15 million is due by April 1.

The previous high for a signing bonus had been Vernon Wells’ $25.5 million under a $126 million, seven-year deal with Toronto that covered 2008-14 and was announced in December 2006. Wells’ bonus was payable in three equal installments on March 1 each year from 2008-10.

Lester’s upfront payment tops a mark set Dec. 8 by Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas. The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a $14 million signing bonus for the Cuban outfielder-third baseman, all payable within 30 days of the deal’s approval by the MLB.

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