Former Cubs Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber can’t wait to play for Davey Martinez

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Matt Weyrich
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Former Cubs Lester, Schwarber can’t wait to play for Martinez originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

First came Starlin Castro.

The Nationals needed an infielder last offseason and keyed in on Castro, who was coming off the first 20-homer season of his career. In talks with Castro and his agent, the Nationals learned that the four-time All-Star had mutual interest for one main reason: Davey Martinez.

Martinez, the longtime bench coach who served under Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay and Chicago, shared the clubhouse with Castro only once. Castro was a holdover from the Cubs’ rebuild in 2015, when Maddon and his staff moved over from Tampa. Even though he was traded the following winter, Castro enjoyed playing for Martinez enough to make Washington his top choice once he became a free agent.

That sentiment has proven to apply to more than just Castro. Former Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber signed with the Nationals in December and cited Martinez as a huge reason why.

“Trust me, me and Davey had plenty of conversations and I love him to death,” Schwarber said. “I’m so excited to be playing for this guy. I know he’s just a baseball guy, he cares about his players, he loves winning, he only wants to win and I think we all saw how much he’s gonna fight for his players and want to fight for a win…in the ’19 World Series when coming freshly off that heart deal he had and getting thrown out. This is the perfect fit. I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to be playing for Davey.”

A month later, starter Jon Lester followed his former teammate to the nation’s capital.

“I think that’s what kinda helped the fit,” Lester said in a Zoom press conference Wednesday. “I think that’s what helped the decision process maybe go a little bit smoother is having those guys. You got [bench coach Tim Bogar] over there, you got Greg Barajas from the trainers, Paul Lessard, obviously Davey and [pitching coach] Jim Hickey, and then having Schwarbs is a big help.

“Obviously, when you know people it makes coming into a whole new environment a lot easier. Not only players but the management. I know these guys and they know me, so they know what to expect of me and I know what to expect of them. So that makes that whole kinda guessing thing early on a lot easier. But yeah, that definitely helped the process. That communication was a huge part of it.”

They might not be the last, either. While there haven’t been any reports indicating the Nationals are pursuing Willson Contreras, the Cubs catcher has hinted on social media that he would be interested in being traded to Washington.

Before Martinez joined the Nationals in 2018, the team had a shaky record of luring free agents. They did net a few big Scott Boras clients in Max Scherzer and Jayson Werth over the years but in the 2015-16 offseason famously struck out on Jason Heyward, Yoenis Céspedes and Ben Zobrist.

That doesn’t appear to be a problem anymore. Winning a World Series will certainly help that cause, but the presence of Martinez alone has been enough to convince his former players to sign with Washington.