At the behest of Red Sox Nation, it was announced that pitcher Jon Lester and the Red Sox front office would table extension talks until after this season.
Every Red Sox fan is aware of the season that Lester is putting together, hence all of the commotion on Twitter asking for Red Sox brass to #PayLester. So far this year, Lester is 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA and 142 strikeouts. He has been Boston’s stopper all year long, and frankly, has been their ace for roughly half of a decade.
It makes sense to put a bookmark in extension talks for a few reasons. Firstly, it will help Lester focus on this season and continue his best season as a professional and perhaps he can make a push for the Cy Young Award, assuming Felix Hernandez falls ill. Secondly, it is clear that the Red Sox camp and Lester’s camp are having a tough time agreeing on the dollar amount for the 30 year-old lefty.
The key term in that sentence is “30 year-old” as Lester isn’t a spring chicken these days. Look at the New York Yankees and C.C. Sabathia. While Sabathia had a bit more of a workload on him, and appeared more out of shape than Lester at the time of his signing, he was still only 29 years of age when he agreed to his mega-deal with the Yankees. After two solid years, C.C’s production has clearly dropped and he is having trouble staying on the field in the Bronx.
While Lester is his own beast and will not go down the same road Sabathia did, there is obvious reason and precedent for the Sox to be hesitant to give Lester the $100 million deal he probably desires. Something tells me that the highest Boston may go is a five-year $90 million offer, somewhat comparable to what they signed John Lackey for a few years back.
I would happily give Lester an $100 million contract, assuming there were certain injury caveats in its structure, but this issue will not be resolved until after the season. All I know is that if Jon Lester hits the open market this offseason, I would hope and pray he wouldn’t look at the $120 million offer the Yanks would likely throw at him just to tick-off Boston and its fans.