Left-handed starter Jon Lester and the Washington Nationals finalized a $5 million, one-year contract Wednesday, giving the team a fourth member of a rotation led by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin.
Lester and the team had an agreement in principle in place last week, pending the successful completion of a physical exam.
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The five-time All-Star and Nationals manager Dave Martinez know each other well: Martinez was the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs when Lester helped that club win the 2016 World Series for its first title in 108 years.
Coming off a last-place finish in the NL East in 2020, Washington has had a busy offseason that already includes adding outfielder Kyle Schwarber — like Lester, from the Cubs — and lefty reliever Brad Hand via free agency, first baseman Josh Bell in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates and re-signing Ryan Zimmerman after he sat out last season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lester turned 37 this month and will be heading into his 16th season in 2021. He has a 193-111 record and 3.60 ERA for his career, which mostly was spent with the Boston Red Sox and the Cubs, plus part of one season with the Oakland Athletics.
Lester is a workhorse who has topped 200 innings in eight regular seasons and still threw at least 170 in each of the past three full years.
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He’s also been a postseason star, putting up a 2.51 ERA across 154 innings while helping Boston win a pair of World Series championships before being a part of Chicago’s title run.
Lester pitched 61 innings across 12 starts in the truncated 2020 season, going 3-3 with a career-high 5.16 ERA for the Cubs.
His $25 million mutual option for 2021 was declined by the Cubs in October, completing a $155 million, six-year contract and allowing Lester to become a free agent. Lester is owed a $10 million buyout by Chicago: $2 million on each Dec. 31 from 2022 through 2026.
He was 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA in 171 starts with the Cubs.