Sports

What’s Next For Jon Lester At Age 37?

Starter Jon Lester #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri.
(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)

 

Jon Lester has been in MLB for 16 seasons.

The lefty has been around the block, having played for five teams in total and three over the past two seasons.

But this winter, he’s a free agent, and there are some questions about his future.

Will he choose to return for another season?

If so, where will he land?

Let’s take a look.

 

Does Lester Still Have Something Left In The Tank?

In recent seasons, Lester has looked like a shell of his past self.

Since the start of the 2019 campaign, the veteran has made 71 starts.

In that span, he has registered a 4.67 ERA, 4.84 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, and 91 ERA+.

Most recently, in the 2021 season, he made 28 starts between two teams, and he finished the year with a 4.71 ERA.

Obviously, those numbers are very iffy, but are they serviceable?

Truthfully, it depends on who he’s playing for.

Some teams might need inning-eaters.

Others might have a very poor rotation situation in which Lester would actually be an upgrade over some of the current options.

In that sense, you could definitely argue that Lester still has some value left in the tank, even though he’s a below-average arm at this stage of his career.

It’s easy to forget how good this guy was during his prime.

The 37-year-old has five All-Star selections and three World Series titles to his name, and he earned every bit of those accomplishments.

From 2013 to 2018, he posted a 3.25 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, and 126 ERA+.

He was one of the league’s top starters during that span.

 

If He Plays Another Season, Where Might He Land?

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that Lester plays another season.

You’ve probably gathered by now that there isn’t going to be a crazy market for him this winter.

That said, he figures to land somewhere.

One team that makes a lot of sense as a potential suitor is the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lester spent the final couple of months of the 2021 season with St. Louis after being traded there at the deadline, and the results were actually pretty solid.

His first two starts with the club were pretty ugly, but from that point on, he managed to put up a 3.40 ERA over 10 starts.

He did have a 5.29 FIP over that span, so there’s a good chance that he was fortunate to have a low ERA.

Still, he kept runs off the board, and that’s what counts.

The Cardinals may lose multiple starting pitchers to free agency this offseason, and retaining Lester would make sense in that case.

St. Louis aside, the Baltimore Orioles are likely going to need to sign some inning-eatings this winter.

Baltimore’s rotation was embarrassingly bad in 2021, and the organization owes it to its fans to insert some new arms into the mix in 2022.

Lester would likely come at a low price and would add some intrigue to the rotation given his status as a former star.

We’ll see if that’s a possibility the Orioles end up pursuing.



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