After six years in a Cub uniform, arguably the most successful six year run in franchise history, Jon Lester signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals.
It’s going to be hard to see Big Jon in another uniform, despite his wearing two other ones before coming here, because he left it all on the field as a Cub. Nationals fans are going to think they’re getting the Jon Lester who was the Cubs’ ace for so long. Sadly, he was starting his decline in 2019, and it was full-blown in 2020.
So while we (like Red Sox fans) can love Lester for what he was, the Nationals are paying for what he is. And let’s face it, none of us are what we used to be.
For reference, here are his metrics from 2020:
The man was getting clocked out there last year. I’m sure he believes he’s got one last great year in the tank. I’m sure his former catcher/manager David Ross believed it too. But the cold, hard fact is that the Cubs can get someone to do better than what you see above for under the $4 million Washington is giving Lester.
And while I hope Lester in Washington isn’t what Jake Arrieta was in Philadelphia – a former ace being paid for his resume rather than providing return on investment – he’s not getting any younger.
And so he joins Kyle Schwarber in Washington, two people who will never have to reach for a dinner or bar tab in Chicago for as long as they live. But sometimes you see guys through the eyes of love. Just as you want Lester to go out and shove as if it were 2016 all over again, you’d want Schwarber to flatten baseballs at a rate that doesn’t just reveal him to be the modern day Adam Dunn.
Maybe Jed Hoyer is right to not let sentiment get in the way of making player decisions. It’s already bad enough that the Ricketts’ forcing him to squeeze every nickel until it bleeds means they are going to be hard-pressed to put a decent team on the field in what is a very winnable division.
But as much as we all (rightfully) love Jon Lester, the cold, hard fact is that this was the correct baseball decision to make.
That doesn’t make it suck any less.