Former Red Sox All-Star starter Jon Lester has retired after 16 major-league seasons, he told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. Lester, who pitched for the Sox from 2006 to 2014, was a free agent after splitting last season between the Nationals and Cardinals.
Lester, who just turned 38, exits the game as a five-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion (including twice in Boston) and 200-game winner.
“It’s kind of run its course,” Lester told Rogers. “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,” he continued. “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.”
Drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 draft, Lester debuted in 2006 but was sidelined late that season after being diagnosed with lymphoma. He underwent chemotherapy, returned to the mound in July, then went on to start the clinching Game 4 of the World Series in Colorado, tossing 5 ⅔ scoreless innings.
In 242 games (241 starts) with the Red Sox, Lester posted a 110-63 record with a 3.64 ERA in 1,519 ⅓ innings. He was named an All-Star three times in that span (2010, 2011, 2014) while putting together an incredible postseason resumé (2.11 ERA, 68 strikeouts in 76 ⅔ innings over 13 games). During Boston’s 2013 World Series run, he was 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his five starts.
In the midst of a down season in 2014, the Sox traded Lester — an impending free agent — to Oakland after contract negotiations with him had stalled. He pitched well there down the stretch, then signed a massive, six-year, $155 million deal with the Cubs despite strong interest from Boston. His ERA in Chicago (3.64) was identical to what it was in Boston and he played a crucial role in helping the Cubs break their championship curse in 2016.
In total, Lester posted a 200-117 record in 16 seasons with the Red Sox (2006-14), Athletics (2014), Cubs (2015-20), Nationals (2021) and Cardinals (2021). The lefty slowed down a bit over the last three seasons but managed a respectable 4.36 ERA in 12 starts with St. Louis after being sent there at the deadline.
With Lester now retired, zero members of the 2007 Red Sox World Series team remain active.
Story by Chris Cotillo, masslive.com