The Cubs declined their option on 36-year-old left-hander Jon Lester’s contract for 2021, officially making him a free agent.
The move came as no surprise because the option called for Lester, who was 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA in 12 starts this season, to make $25 million next season.
But while the Cubs declined Lester’s option, there is still a chance he will return to the North Side.
‘‘We’ve had conversations about coming back and being a part of this organization,’’ Lester said on the MLB Network Radio. ‘‘We haven’t had any contract talks, but the feeling is mutual on both sides that we want to get something done.
‘‘I think the weird part or weird scenario that we’re in right now is the unknown of going forward — of what this deal, this state of the world that we’re in is gonna do for baseball.’’
Lester became the third Cubs starting pitcher to hit the free-agent market this week. Right-hander Tyler Chatwood and left-hander Jose Quintana became free agents Wednesday.
According to a source, the Cubs will pick up their option on first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s contract for 2021 but will decline it on second baseman Daniel Descalso’s deal.
Rizzo will be entering the final year of the seven-year, $41 million extension he signed in 2013. Third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javy Baez, left fielder Kyle Schwarber and Rizzo are set to become free agents after next season.
The Cubs also made two roster moves, claiming infielder Max Schrock off waivers from the Cardinals and assigning left-hander Rex Brothers outright to Class AAA Iowa.