With the Washington Nationals still in need of a starter for the back end of the rotation, left-hander Jon Lester makes for an intriguing option.
Very little is being leaked from the Nationals camp, leaving us to wonder how they are going to spend their money in free agency. We know the needs, and we know the Nationals are wanting to spread the money around. One cost efficient option for the starting rotation is Jon Lester.
Tasked with building a “championship caliber team”, we have been pushing for big names all offseason. While the Trevor Bauer to the Nationals train really hasn’t left the station, J.T. Realmuto, DJ LeMahieu, George Springer, Marcell Ozuna, and Michael Brantley are all names who have in some way or another been connected to the Nationals.
The deeper we get into January, the more I feel as if the Nationals are not going to make the big splash we want them to. Even after watching the New York Mets bring in Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, seems as if the Nationals will continue to sit idly by, mulling their options.
There are several factors we like about Jon Lester and feel he would be a great addition to the Washington Nationals for the 2021 season.
Lester is cheap, can be had for one year, is durable, has plenty of playoff experience, and can swing the lumber a little bit as well. Okay, so the last point is partly a joke. However, Jon does have a home run each of the last three seasons, and had a career high .188 batting average last year.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts Lester will sign for one year at $5M. This is a small investment for a team who isn’t sure if they want to pay to compete with the Mets and Atlanta Braves, or restock the cupboards. With Max Scherzer coming off the books, the Nationals don’t want to be tied to a pitcher multiple years if they plan on rebuilding after this year.
Lester has made at least 30 starts, twelve times in his 15 year career. Take out his rookie season and the COVID shortened season, and that leaves just one year he missed more than a few turns in the rotation. With the injuries the Nationals suffered to the starting rotation last year, they need an innings eater in the midst to help shorten games for the bullpen.
Jon Lester has three World Series rings and has made 22 postseason starts. He can pitch in high leverage situations and be a veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Yes, he is coming off two sub-par years pitching for the Chicago Cubs. He’s just three years from winning a league best 18 games with a 3.32 earned run average. I also know the Nationals want to get younger. If they are willing to pay for a Jake Odorizzi or to a lesser extent Jose Quintana, great. If not, why not roll the dice with Lester?
I don’t think they will spend money and Lester will remain there for the taking. Time to sign him up and help solidify the back end of the starting rotation.