As reported by Jesse Rogers at ESPN this morning, former Cubs lefthander Jon Lester is retiring from baseball, just a few days after celebrating his 38th birthday:
Three-time World Series champion and 200-game winner Jon Lester is retiring after a 16-year career.
Lester, 38, told ESPN that his body just isn’t up for the rigors of a major league season anymore. He made 30 or more starts 12 times during his career and 28 during his final season split between the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals.
His résumé includes five All-Star appearances and a 2.51 postseason ERA.
“It’s kind of run its course,” Lester said. “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.”
We can never thank Jon enough for his contributions to the Cubs for six years, including during the 2016 World Series. Curiously, because he finished his career as a Cardinal, his last two starts were against the Cubs last September. He wasn’t able to leave the field as a Cub for the final time and get acknowledgement from a Wrigley Field crowd, because his last Cubs appearance was during the 2020 pandemic season, when ballparks were empty. The Cubs did give him a tribute video and he got cheers from a Wrigley crowd in May 2021 when he returned as a member of the Washington Nationals.
Just after the 2020 season ended, when Lester became a free agent, I wrote this appreciation article and I’ll stand by everything in it. I mentioned briefly Lester’s offer to buy beers for Cubs fans at several Chicago-area bars in late 2021 and here’s how much money they raised for charitable causes:
Thanks for coming out this weekend y’all! Yesterday we added 1,372 @MillerLites to my tab, bringing our grand total to 4,838. Shout out to all the bars, their staff, and those cheers-ing from afar! Whether this is goodbye or see you next year, I love you Chicago! #JonsTab pic.twitter.com/OTEIO2gOjc— Jon Lester (@JLester34) November 2, 2020
A great baseball player and an even better human being who was without a doubt the best free-agent signing in Cubs franchise history. As I wrote in that 2020 appreciation article:
The signing of Jon Lester brought someone to the Cubs we’d never quite seen before — a player steeped in victory (two World Series titles, a no-hitter) and someone dedicated to charitable work in the community. His signing, along with other savvy moves by Theo & Co., brought us the World Series championship all of us had dreamed of, forever.
Thanks for everything, Jon, and we look forward to seeing you at Cubs 2016 World Series reunions in the future.