Veteran left-hander Jon Lester and the Washington Nationals are in agreement on a one-year deal, pending a physical, sources familiar with the contract told ESPN.
Lester rejoins Dave Martinez, the current Nationals manager and former Cubs bench coach when they won the 2016 World Series for their first title in 108 years. Martinez has now added two players from his time with the Cubs; left fielder Kyle Schwarber was signed as a free agent last week.
While no longer an ace of a staff, Lester brings a great postseason résumé with him to Washington and can fit nicely behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin in the rotation.
Toward the end of a successful six-year run with the Cubs, Lester’s numbers began to go south. But every time he was counted out, he showed he could adjust and produce.
That includes in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he started out hot, then took about a five-game dip, before fixing his mechanics. He finished with a deceptive 5.16 ERA. Three of his final four starts produced a 1.06 ERA, though he never got a chance to pitch in the postseason, as the Cubs were swept in two games by the Miami Marlins.
Overall, the 37-year-old left-hander was 3-3 in 61 innings and 12 starts for the Cubs last season, registering 42 strikeouts and 17 walks. He earned a prorated $5,555,556 from his scheduled $15 million salary.
Lester is in the final stages of his career and is old school in the sense that pitcher wins still matter to him. He has 193 career victories, but the times when he has really shined in his career have come in October, during which he has produced a 2.51 career postseason ERA.
Two hundred wins and a chance at another title while cementing his Hall of Fame credentials are what’s on Lester’s mind as he begins the final phase of his career. He won’t do it with velocity or pure stuff, but he hasn’t forgotten how to pitch.