Lester will receive a $10-million buyout.
While he's now on the open market, the Cubs and Lester are expected to discuss a reunion on a contract that's worth less, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago. The 36-year-old confirmed he's interested in returning to the north side.
"I know there is some doubt as far as the money that's out there but I would like to think we can definitely get this thing done," Lester told ESPN Radio 1000 on Friday, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "I think it's going to be a long offseason for everybody."
Lester signed a six-year, $155-million deal with the Cubs before the 2015 season. Throughout the contract, he compiled a 3.64 ERA, made two All-Star appearances, and was named NLCS co-MVP during the team's historic run to a World Series title in 2016.
He struggled in 2020, posting a career-high 5.16 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP and 42 strikeouts over 12 starts. His 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings was the worst mark of Lester's career.