Former Cubs left-hander Jon Lester, part of the heart of the 2016 World Series championship team, will retire from baseball, ESPN reported.
Lester, a 200-game winner who also won two titles with the Red Sox, told ESPN that he no longer can physically handle a full MLB season.
“It’s kind of run its course,” Lester, who turned 38 on Friday, told the network. “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.”
Lester was the Cubs’ big free-agent addition who ignited their World Series run, signing a six-year, $155 million deal in December 2014. Seventy-seven of his 200 victories came as a member of the Cubs.
He signed with the Nationals when the Cubs declined his option after the 2020 season and split the 2021 season between the Nats and Cardinals.
Lester made five All-Star appearances and has a 2.51 postseason ERA over his 16-year career.
Selected by Boston in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft, he broke into the majors with the Red Sox in 2006, going 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 15 starts.
Lester’s first big-league season was cut short when he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy and returned to the majors in July 2007, helping the Red Sox to the American League East title by going 4-0 with a 4.57 ERA in 12 games down the stretch.
Lester then delivered in the postseason, pitching 5‰ scoreless innings in Boston’s clinching 4-3 victory over the Rockies in Game 4 of the World Series.
After the 2014 season, he signed with the Cubs and shared National League Championship Series MVP honors with Javy Baez on the way to the Cubs’ historic title in 2016.
Lester got his 200th career victory when he pitched six effective innings for St. Louis in a 5-2 victory at Milwaukee on Sept. 20.
He is one of only nine modern lefties with 200 wins, a .600 winning percentage (200-117) and a career ERA under 4.00 (3.66). Six of the other eight are in the Hall of Fame, while one, CC Sabathia, isn’t eligible yet.
Contributing: Associated Press