Back in April, the Boston Red Sox engaged in contract talks with soon-to-be free agent pitcher Jon Lester. After an offer of four years at $70 million, Lester and his camp decided to roll the dice and bank on a great year by the left-hander and if this was Vegas, they just won the jack pot.
Lester is posting one of his best starts to a season in his career with a 2.9 2 ERA in 17 games or 114 innings. Lester is the rock of the pitching staff in the sense that he is good for a quality start nearly every time he takes the ball. His ability to spare the Boston bullpen was huge in the second half of last season when he went 9-3 in 16 starts dating back to the beginning of August 2013. He was good for over 6.2 innings per game during that stretch.
“There has been no offer, there have been no new talks,” Lester said. “I’ve been talking to Ben [Cherington] all along, but that’s nothing new. There is no new offer. I don’t think they’ve started anything. I know there’s been conversation throughout the season, just different topics – Nothing about contract, numbers, anything like that.”
Lester made it clear early in the season that the contract questions were an added distraction that the Red Sox didn’t need. So with that information, it’s consistent that he would deny the contract talks, therefor squashing the questions and distraction.
There’s no doubt that every one would like to have Lester back. Lester said he’d take a home-town discount, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to cash in on a career-type season he is having. The Red Sox have groomed Lester into the leader of this rotation and unlike Ellsbury, they should pay to keep him here.
At the age of 30, Lester shouldn’t be given anything more than a 6-year deal with guarantees in the first half and incentives in the last couple. With little injury history, note-worthy durability and how he has stepped up in a leadership role since Josh Beckett left town, the Red Sox need to extend for this guy. (Some of us feel they should have tried harder to keep Ellsbury, but that’s another story.)
Boston’s starting pitching situation:
Peavy will be a free agent at the end of this season. Buchholz hasn’t proven he can be reliable for an entire season. Lackey has a clause in his contract that states he’ll be pitching for $500,000 next season due to Tommy John surgery, but like a lot of people, I don’t see Lackey pitching for that.
We all like the young kids, but who better to groom them on the right way then someone that’s done it the right way. That being said, not all of them are a sure thing yet. You have something in Workman, De La Rosa, Doubront and, in time, Henry Owens.
What I don’t want is all four of those kids starting in 2015 when Buchholz gets injured and Lackey retires after and offseason that led to letting Lester walk. I have faith in the farm system, but seeds take time to grow.