Cubs News: Jon Lester signs with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

We knew ownership wasn’t giving Jed Hoyer much to work with financially, but Monday’s news makes it abundantly clear just how dire the situation has become at Gallagher Way.

Former Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester will have a new home in our nation’s capital come 2021 after the signed with the Washington Nationals, according to a report from MLB insider by Jeff Passan. The agreement is a one-year deal with mutual option for 2022.

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Many have wondered if a reunion with Lester, 37, and the Cubs was going to happen even after his $25 million club option was declined. The declining of his option resulted in him being an unrestricted free agent for the first time since he signed the six-year deal with the Cubs back in December, 2014. Him returning to the Cubs would have meant signing a cheaper free agent deal.

The reports of talks between Lester and the Nationals came up already serious and deep earlier Monday night just before the signing was officially announced. Now a member of the Nationals, Lester will join the likes of Kyle Schwarber and Davey Martinez as members of the 2016 Cubs to head to Washington – not to mention former Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

Jon Lester and the Cubs moving on from one another

There is no need to explain why Lester was one of the franchise’s biggest signings in history. The multiple All-Star appearances, a Cy Young finalist and World Series championship – that’s what he was brought in for when he was a free agent. He not only met expectations, but wildly exceeded them in his time here.

Last season Lester struggled with a 5.16 ERA, 5.14 FIP, 1.33 WHIP and 9.4 H/9 in 12 starts. His advancing age and miles on the body have seen his velocity and movement dip, despite overall being very durable. There was little doubt he would still keep pitching moving forward but fans know that he is not the same guy he was for so many years.

Lester’s value as a free agent was listed around $4.5 million according to Spotrac. His value was interesting to look at though considering Corey Kluber just got $11 million from the Yankees after pitching in just eight games the past two seasons. Though it can be argued Kluber can still have a higher performance potential in 2021 considering he is several years younger, misses more bats and is not far removed from his absolute prime years.

The Nationals will be looking at a guy like Lester to be a number four or five pitcher. At this point he is not going to be an ace, and will obviously be behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin in the rotation. If they look to contend for the postseason, which they should, he will have a guy who has one heck of a track record in October/November.

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Saying goodbye to Lester is tough for a lot of Cubs fans. Not only why he did to help bring the team a championship, but the hope he gave fans when the team signed him. It was the official turning point for the franchise. Chicago will now have to replace him and hopefully they’ll do so with some younger arms with more left in the tank. Thanks for everything, Jon.