Former Cubs, Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester announces retirement

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO- Jon Lester, a durable left-hander who won three World Series titles during 16 years in the majors, has announced his retirement.

Lester, who turned 38, finishes with a 200-117 record and a 3.66 ERA in 452 career games, including 451 starts. He also has been a reliable postseason performer, compiling a 2.51 ERA in 26 appearances.

The 6-foot-4 Lester helped Boston win the championship in 2007 and 2013, and led the Chicago Cubs to the title in 2016. The championship for the Cubs was the franchise’s first since 1908.

“It’s kind of run its course,” Lester told ESPN. “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 selected by Boston in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft. The five-time All-Star 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 AL 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 2/3 scoreless innings in Boston’s clinching 4-3 victory over Colorado in Game 4 of the World Series.

Lester signed a $155 million, six-year contract with Chicago after the 2014 season. He shared NLCS MVP honors with Javier Baez on the way to the Cubs’ historic championship in 2016.

Lester got his 200th career win when he pitched six effective innings for St. Louis in a 5-2 victory at Milwaukee on Sept. 20.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.