Jon Lester signs with Nationals, will not return to Cubs
Jon Lester will not be returning to Chicago after all.
The veteran southpaw reportedly reached an agreement with the Washington Nationals Monday evening on a one-year deal:
Addendum to this: Sources tell @JesseRogersESPN that Lester's deal with the Nationals is indeed a straight one-year deal without an option. @Ken_Rosenthal and @jon_greenberg first linked Lester to Washington.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 19, 2021
The Nationals are a hub of former Cubs, as Lester joins Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro, Davey Martinez (manager) and Jim Hickey (pitching coach) in the nation’s capital.
Free agent pitcher Tyler Chatwood will also not be returning to the Cubs, as he reached a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays pending a physical Monday night, according to reports:
Source confirms: Free-agent right-hander Tyler Chatwood in agreement with Blue Jays, pending physical. First: @JonHeyman.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2021
Lester, 37, wrapped up a phenomenal six-year run on the North Side of Chicago and will go down as likely the best free-agent signing in franchise history. He was worth every penny of the $155 million contract, going 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while finishing second in National League Cy Young voting in 2016.
Lester helped create a winning culture in Chicago with his professionalism and leadership that made an impact far beyond the days he took the mound.
Of course, he was a huge part of the World Series run in 2016, bringing the championship trophy to Cubs fans for the first time in 108 years.
“It’s rare when someone joins an organization with some clear goals in mind — to win a World Series, to change a culture, to show up in October just about every year and pitch really well in big games, to be a great teammate, to be someone the organization can be proud of, to make an impact on his teammates and in his community and accomplish all those goals in such an admirable manner,” Theo Epstein said shortly after the season ended.
“We owe him a great debt of gratitude. We were investing in Jon Lester the person every bit as much as we were investing in Jon Lester the pitcher and he came through in both areas for us in typical Jon Lester fashion. So huge tip of the cap to him.”
The Cubs remained steadfast in their hope that they could bring Lester back to Chicago, but that did not come to pass.
As the 2020 regular season wound down, Lester got emotional after his final start at Wrigley Field, saying, “I didn’t think six years would go this fast.”
He expressed disappointment at not being able to have a proper farewell to fans at Wrigley Field and wound up buying the entire city a round of beers over the fall.
Lester’s next potential reunion with Cubs fans will be in mid-May, as the Nationals come to Wrigley Field for a four-game set beginning May 17.