Lester made retirement decision during '21 season


News of Jon Lester’s retirement on Wednesday may have come as a surprise to many in baseball.

But the former Cubs ace told NBC Sports Chicago he had been planning since the midpoint of the 2021 season for it to be his last.

"I've known for a while, probably midway through [last] season," Lester said Wednesday on the Cubs Talk Podcast. "I knew that this was probably going to be it. Obviously I kept it pretty quiet. I told a few of the guys I was closer to throughout the year.

"But really, the body is not holding up like it used to. Obviously the performance aspect of it is part of the decision as well. The grind of the season was outweighing the pleasure of pitching. I figured it was kind of time."

Lester had alluded to retirement publicly during the 2021 season but left open the possibility of continuing to play. He spent the season between the Nationals and Cardinals; he signed with Washington last January and was traded to the Cardinals at the trade deadline.

He retires after 16 seasons in the big leagues, including six with the Cubs from 2015-20. He finishes his decorated career with 200 wins — the 119th pitcher in MLB history to hit the milestone, and the 30th lefty — a five-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion.

What's next as he begins his post-baseball chapter? First, he's going to Disney World with his family this weekend. A golf tournament is on the schedule next weekend. 

"That's the extent of my plans right now," Lester said. "I'll see what goes down. I don't know what I want to do. I've got two boys right now that are in the thick of wanting to play sports. I'll be a part of that, I'll be dad for that.

"I'm sure somewhere along the line, [Cubs manager David Ross] will want me to do something and we'll figure it out. But I'm not going to do anything full time. No coaching, nothing like that. Pop my head in, say hey and bounce.

"That's probably the extent of the job that I want to do. I've been tied down since I was six, as far as summers and all that, so I just want to enjoy it and not have any responsibilities right now."

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