Three-time World Series champion and 16-year MLB veteran Jon Lester plans to retire from baseball, the left-hander told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers for a story published Wednesday. Lester cited the physical toll that a full season takes on his body and expressed a desire to walk away on his own terms.
“It's kind of run its course,” Lester said, as quoted by Rogers. “It's getting harder for me physically. The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance.
“I'd like to think I'm a halfway decent self-evaluator. I don't want someone else telling me I can't do this anymore. I want to be able to hand my jersey over and say, ‘Thank you, it's been fun.’ That's probably the biggest deciding factor.”
Lester, 38, pitched for five different teams from 2006 to 2021, including this past season with the Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals. Washington signed Lester to a one-year deal and he posted a 5.02 ERA over 16 starts before being traded to St. Louis for outfielder Lane Thomas at the July 30 deadline. Thomas posted an impressive .853 OPS in 45 games for the Nationals down the stretch and figures to be in the mix for a starting outfield spot in 2022.
However, Lester’s legacy will be defined by his stints with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox drafted Lester in the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft and he rewarded them by playing a role in both their 2007 and 2013 World Series runs. After being traded to the Oakland A’s at the deadline in 2014, Lester signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs. He then helped them snap their 108-year championship drought with a World Series title in 2016.
In total, Lester appeared in 26 playoff games (22 starts) and put together a 2.51 ERA with 133 strikeouts in 154 innings. He was even better on the World Series stage, going 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA in six games. Lester also established a reputation for his durability. He was the only pitcher to make at least 30 starts every season from 2008 to 2019. He finishes his career with 200 wins in 452 appearances, 2,488 strikeouts, 15 complete games and a 3.66 ERA.