MLB free agency: Nationals, Jon Lester closing in on deal, per report


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The Washington Nationals are close to adding a veteran southpaw with championship pedigree to the rotation. The Nationals are nearing a deal with free agent lefty Jon Lester, reports Russell Dorsey of the Chicago Sun-Times. Financial terms are unknown. Washington has not yet confirmed the trade.

Lester, 37, struggled in 2020, throwing 61 innings with a 5.16 ERA with the Cubs. He has been a tick worse than league average the last two years, but did manage a 3.32 ERA in 181 2/3 innings as recently as 2018. If nothing else, Lester will take the ball every five days. He made at least 31 starts every year from 2008-19, plus another 12 in the 60-game 2020 season.

The Nationals will of course front their rotation with Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg. Lester could step in as the innings-eating No. 4 starter and push Joe Ross and Erick Fedde down a peg on the depth chart. Washington reportedly had interest in Corey Kluber before he signed with the Yankees late last week.

Lester could be the second former Cub to join the Nationals this offseason. Washington signed Kyle Schwarber, who was non-tendered by Chicago last month, a few weeks ago. Schwarber and Josh Bell are the club’s two big offensive additions this winter. The Nationals could still bring in an infielder, specifically a third baseman, as well as bullpen help.

Washington went 26-34 and finished in last place in the NL East last season. They are one year removed from winning the World Series, however, and with their top three starters making big money, and Juan Soto and Trea Turner still making below market value salaries and providing big production, it only makes sense to go for it in 2021.

Our R.J. Anderson did not rank Lester among the top 60 free agents available this offseason.





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