More details surfaced Monday regarding the ongoing contract saga between the Boston Red Sox and starting pitcher Jon Lester. Lester is set to become a free agent at the season’s end. He’s arguably amid the best start of his career from a statistical standpoint.
Sources say the Red Sox resumed contract talks with the lefty following their prior attempts back in April. The team failed to make headway in negotations when Lester initially turned down an offer of $70 million over 4 years.
The Red Sox have apparently increased their original offer based on Lester’s perofmance thus far. In 17 starts this year, Lester is 9-7 with a 2.92 ERA and 115 strikeouts. He has earned a victory in each of his last four starts.
Lester refutes such reports. When asked about the alleged return to contract discussion by ESPN Sunday he said, “There has been no offer, there have been no new talks.”
It’s been made clear that both sides would like to reach an agreement. CEO Larry Lucchino previously mentioned that Boston had plans of re-entering contract talks before the season came to a close. Lester says he has kept in close contact with General Manager Ben Cherrington with the hopes of striking a deal. He’s been vocal about his desire to remain with the club.
Top pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Masahiro Tanaka have all landed mega-contracts. Based on Lester’s talent, annual output and his importance to the success of the pitching staff, it’s safe to say he’ll be seeking big money. It’ll be hard not pay him based on what the market commands for elite pitchers now.
Many speculate Lester is seeking a deal in the five-year, $120 million range. He’ll surely field that on the open market, if not more.
There’s no question as to whether the Red Sox can afford to pay Lester what he’s seeking. It’s just a matter of when they’ll do it. Engaging in such talks during the season can be difficult.
Lester openly admitted he did not want the talks to become a distraction from what’s taking place on the field. “We don’t need distractions. We need to worry about playing good baseball,” said Lester.
The approaching All-Star Game hiatus presents an opportunity to progress the talks if the parties choose to do so.