Red Sox

Red Sox

Jon Lester is open to anything in these unprecedented times -- including a reunion with the team that famously low-balled him six years ago.

The Chicago Cubs pitcher, who's entering the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2020, told WEEI's Rob Bradford he's not ruling out any options going forward, including a return to the Boston Red Sox.

"I don't know what is going to happen next year,” Lester told Bradford. "I know I have the team option, the player option, that sort of thing. We'll figure that out one way or the other. I will either be here or be a free agent. Obviously everything is open. I'm open-minded to anything.

"Absolutely it would be cool to go back and finish my career where it all started (in Boston). But, I've got a little time before I really have to sit down and weigh that decision, even if it's something where they want me back. Hopefully, I'm still a good enough caliber pitcher that the want of my services will still be out there for people. We'll see."

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The 36-year-old has a $25 million option for 2021 that would vest if he pitches 200 innings in 2020, a threshold that seems impossible considering MLB still hasn't started its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If Lester doesn't pitch 200 innings, the Cubs can decide whether to pay him $25 million in his age-37 season or make him a free agent. Considering he posted a 4.46 ERA in 2019 while allowing a career-high 205 hits, they'll likely choose the latter.

 

Lester enjoyed an All-Star campaign in 2018, though, and certainly is a beloved figure in Boston: He won two World Series titles with the Red Sox after coming up through the team's farm system and was an incredibly clutch postseason pitcher.

Lester parted with the Sox on acrimonious terms, as Boston traded the left-hander to the Oakland Athletics in 2014 after he rejected the team's four-year, $70 million contract offer that offseason. (He'd later sign a six-year, $155 million deal with Chicago that he's about to finish.)

But Lester isn't dwelling on the past; he's far more concerned about getting back on the mound and finding work wherever he can get it.

"It's weird. Not only for the individuals that are going into free agency or arbitration or what-not. People are getting a year older and not putting up numbers," Lester told Bradford,

"With how our game is now with everybody so focused on your age and all that, this really hurts people. On a personal level, this hurts me. I'm not getting any younger and coming off a year like I had last year, this isn't going to help me."

Major League Baseball has discussed several options to return to play and reportedly is eyeing a late-June start to the 2020 season. The sooner the better for Lester.