A reunion between former Cubs lefty Jon Lester and the Red Sox hasn’t come up.
When the Chicago Cubs paid Jon Lester a $10 million buyout rather than pick up a $25 million team option for 2021, not a single person was surprised. It was a cost-cutting move, falling right in line with the team’s apparent course of action this offseason. Pair that desire to slash payroll with an underwhelming 2020 from the veteran left-hander and everything fell into place quickly.
Lester openly stated his willingness to return to Chicago in 2021 – although we haven’t heard much since that initial comment. He, of course, treated fans by picking up bar tabs in Wrigleyville once the season ended – but we’re all hoping for the three-time World Series champion to get the chance to walk off the Wrigley Field mound to raucous applause one last time.
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As I said, though, we haven’t heard much connecting Lester to the Cubs to this point in the winter. But that hardly means the two sides won’t get something figured out. New president of baseball ops Jed Hoyer certainly has his hands full, trying to find a general manager while navigating a digital Winter Meetings and figure out a course of action when it comes to his core players.
The only substantive rumor we’ve heard on the Lester front until this week connected the San Francisco Giants to the left-hander. Now, the Giants were the rumored runners-up in the Lester sweepstakes back in 2014 – so this isn’t a necessarily new interest (although there is a new front office regime out west).
Some speculated Lester would seek to return to Boston as his career winds down. The Red Sox drafted him in the second round of the MLB Draft nearly two decades ago – and it would be a poetic close to his potentially Hall of Fame-worthy career.
But, at least at this point, that doesn’t seem likely, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
"According to a major league source, the Red Sox haven’t expressed interest in signing Lester, who came a free agent after the Cubs chose not to pick up the lefty’s $25 million option for 2021."
Bradford notes Boston has reached out to guys in a similar vein as Lester, most notably Corey Kluber – who is also looking to re-establish himself in 2021. Any team that adds Lester isn’t going to have to shell out big-time money. After all, despite being one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation, his last two years have culminated in 43 starts, a 4.64 ERA and 1.453 WHIP.
He might not be an ace anymore. But Lester brings invaluable experience and mental toughness to the mound – and you can bet he’s going to get some calls in the weeks to come.