After previously addressing their vacancies in the corner outfield and at first base, the Nationals filled a hole in their starting rotation on Monday evening. Washington and free-agent left-hander Jon Lester are in agreement on a one-year deal, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The team has not confirmed the
After previously addressing their vacancies in the corner outfield and at first base, the Nationals filled a hole in their starting rotation on Monday evening. Washington and free-agent left-hander Jon Lester are in agreement on a one-year deal, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The team has not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical.
Lester, 37, has pitched 15 big league seasons as one of the Majors’ most impactful southpaw starters. The Washington state native is a three-time World Series champion, earning titles with both the Red Sox (in 2007 and ’13) and the Cubs (’16), while also capturing the ’16 National League Championship Series MVP Award and earning five All-Star selections. He tossed a no-hitter during the ‘08 season for Boston.
Lester has pitched the past six seasons for Chicago, finishing his memorable Cubs tenure with a 77-44 record, a 3.64 ERA and three crucial victories during the North Siders’ curse-breaking run to the 2016 World Series title.
The 2020 season saw Lester post a career-worst 5.16 ERA across 12 starts, including a career-worst 6.2 strikeouts and 1.6 home runs allowed per nine innings. But Lester also owns a sterling postseason resume, boasting a career 2.51 ERA in October. He’s also been durable, making at least 30 starts in every full season since 2008.
Lester will join a veteran rotation in Washington headed by the trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, a group that helped the Nationals capture their first World Series championship in 2019. The Nats had to determine the Nos. 4 and 5 spots for ‘21, after Aníbal Sánchez became a free agent this offseason and Austin Voth struggled in his first season as a full-time starter. Joe Ross, who was the top candidate for the No. 5 spot in ‘20 before electing not to play, is likely to round out the rotation. Lester and Corbin would give the Nats a pair of lefties.
Lester has pitched at Nationals Park only three times in his career, but his ties to the organization run deep. Manager Dave Martinez and pitching coach Jim Hickey worked with Lester when they were part of the Cubs’ coaching staff. His new teammates in Washington will include numerous players he spent time with in Chicago: second baseman Starlin Castro, newly signed outfielder Kyle Schwarber and catcher Welington Castillo.
This season, Lester is likely to approach the 200-win milestone. He currently ranks fourth among active pitchers with 193 victories.