Jon Lester has had a mostly successful run with the Chicago Cubs, with his six-year deal reaching its end in 2020. The Cubs should give him one more year.
As a Chicago Cub, Jon Lester has made 171 starts, posting a 3.64 ERA. In 1002 2/3 innings, he has struck out 940 hitters and has a 3.86 FIP. Lester’s signing was more than just a big splash; it signaled the beginning of the Cubs’ run, culminating in the famous World Series ring in 2016.
The last two seasons from Lester have not been typical Jon Lester, as he has gotten hit around a little bit, which is a combination of age and career workload. It was expected at the beginning of the deal, but regardless of how it ended, the deal was mostly a success, and Lester has enjoyed his time in Chicago. The Cubs should give him one more year in 2021. The vesting option on his contract will not vest, as he did not pitch 200 innings in 2020 or 400 between 2019-20.
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As of right now, Lester’s last start at Wrigley Field is against a familiar foe, the Cleveland Indians. He pitched five innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits. His last regular-season start as a Cub also came in Chicago, but on the south side. He only lasted 3 2/3 innings giving up six hits and seven earned runs while walking three hitters; most of that damage came in the fourth inning. He left the game with a 5-4 lead, but a bases-clearing double gave Lester the loss.
“Lefthander,” Lester’s aptly named players’ weekend nickname, is slated to pitch Game 3 of the Wild Card series at Wrigley on Saturday, if necessary, after Thursday’s game was inexplicably “rained out.” Lester thrives on the big stage, and the number of times he has delivered for the Cubs when they need him too. He takes the ball whenever he’s asked and leaves it all on the field.
The Cubs should re-sign Lester to a one-year deal in 2021 and give him a proper send-off. He gets a full season, with fans most likely, and he can get the appropriate cheers he deserves on his retirement tour.
Who better to give Lester a retirement than his catcher, David Ross? Ross will be in his second year as a manager in 2021. He won the division in a short season, pending what the Cubs do in the offseason; it will be interesting to watch how Ross manages the roster over a full season.
This all depends on how the Cubs distribute the money this offseason, if they do at all. The last two years have been relatively quiet, but Lester’s contract is off the books after this year. There is a spot open in the rotation, and Lester should get his last chance in the spotlight.