WASHINGTON – Left-hander Jon Lester and the Washington Nationals have an agreement in principle in place for a one-year contract, pending the successful completion of a physical exam, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity on Monday night because the contract was not yet official.
ESPN was first to report an agreement between Lester and the Nationals, whose manager, Dave Martinez, was the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs when the starting pitcher helped that club win the 2016 World Series for its first title in 108 years.
Lester is expected to fill the need for a No. 4 starter in Washington, slotting into a rotation that is led by three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, 2019 World Series MVP and lefty Patrick Corbin.
Coming off a last-place finish in the NL East in 2020, Washington's busy offseason already included adding outfielder Kyle Schwarber via free agency — like Lester, from the Cubs — and first baseman Josh Bell in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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 Chicago 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.
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 during the pandemic-shortened 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.
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