Cubs decline pitcher Jon Lester's $25 million option but haven't closed the door on a reunion

Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune
·2 min read

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs officially declined the $25 million option on left-handed pitcher Jon Lester but haven’t closed the door on re-signing the veteran free agent.

Lester, 36, and President Theo Epstein plan to meet this winter about a possible reunion.

Lester, who led the Cubs to five playoff appearances, three National League Central titles and the 2016 World Series title after signing a six-year, $155 million contract in December 2014, will receive a $10 million buyout.

“He’s made a huge impact on Chicago Cubs baseball, and it remains to be seen what the future holds,” Epstein said Oct. 5 in his end-of-season conference call.

Lester, who is free to negotiate with any team starting Sunday night, has expressed a desire to remain with the Cubs and needs seven victories to reach 200 in his career.

Other financial decisions the Cubs face at Sunday’s deadline are whether to pick up the $16.5 million option on first baseman Anthony Rizzo and a $3.5 million option on infielder Daniel Descalso. The Cubs seem likely to pick up the option on Rizzo, 31, who has hit 228 home runs and has an .866 OPS during his 8 1/2 seasons with the Cubs. Descalso, meanwhile, is likely to receive a $1 million buyout.

Lester, 36, was 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA in 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened season. He posted a 2.44 ERA with a 3-3 record and a .201 opponents batting average in 12 postseason starts for the Cubs. During his six seasons in Chicago, Lester went 77-44 with a 3.64 ERA in 171 starts.

Meanwhile, the Cubs claimed left-handed hitting infielder Max Schrock off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Schrock, 26, has batted .300 with only 185 strikeouts in 1,979 minor league plate appearances, an average of one strikeout per 10.7 plate appearances. Schrock batted .176 (3 for 17) with one home run in 11 games for the Cardinals in 2020.

Left-hander Rex Brothers was assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa. Brothers had an 8.10 ERA in three relief appearances in 2020.

The Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 31 players.

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