CHICAGO – When he took the mound for the final time at Wrigley Field on September 16th, many figured it might be the final time they see one of the best players of their era put on the uniform.
With a $25 million contract option due for 2021 and the Cubs out of regular season games at home for his start, Jon Lester went five innings in a 3-2 win over the Indians at Wrigley Field. Many tributes came in from fans and even the team that day since there was a good chance the Cubs wouldn’t pick up his contract option.
Indeed, Lester wouldn’t pitch another game at Wrigley Field, and the team has decided against the pricey extra year.
On Friday afternoon, the team officially declined the option for Lester, instead option to give him a $10 million buyout for the 2020 season. This was part of the initial six-year, $155 million contract that Lester signed late in 2014, joining the Cubs for one of the greatest eras in team history.
There is a possibility the team could bring back the left-handed starter on a different contract, but that won’t be known for a bit as an unusual free agency begins.
Lester joined the Cubs for the 2015 season and was a part of the team’s ascension to the top of baseball the next few years. He was an All-Star in 2016 and 2018 and was a Cy Young Award finalist during the World Series championship season.
In 171 regular season games for the Cubs, Lester was 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA with 940 strikeouts compared to 292 walks. He also pitched in eight playoff games for the Cubs, including a 3-1 record during the 2016 run for a championship that also included a relief appearance in Game 7 of the World Series.