BOSTON (CBS) – Opening day starter Jon Lester is entering the final year of a contract paying him $13 million for the 2014 season and is looking to extend it here in Boston beyond this year.
After leading the Red Sox to another World Series title back in October, a series in which he won two of the six games and allowed just one run, Lester, 30, is aiming for a long-term deal that will keep him a Red Sox for life.
On Sunday, his representatives and the team decided to table the discussions and put the negotiations on hold for now, leading to speculation that his definition of a “hometown discount” is very different than what the team initially had in mind.
By all accounts the two sides are on amicable terms, but they have mutually decided to put the negotiations on pause for the time being.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich program on Monday to talk the latest news in that situation, as well as a season preview.
For Pete, the contract talks will not go sour because Lester has reasonable agents.
“I don’t think it’s gonna turn ugly for one reason. It’s very similar to the Dustin Pedroia situation last year and both players have the same agents in Seth and Sam Levinson. They talked in spring training last year and couldn’t come to a deal, then eventually over the summer they announced an 8-year contract extension.”
Given the history between Lester’s representatives and the team, Abraham feels like a deal will eventually be reached.
However, Pedroia and Lester were not in the same situation. Pedroia was not entering the final year of his deal and Lester is, but the similarity is that Lester wants to stay with the Red Sox and the Red Sox want him to stay too.
The difference in positions (second base vs. starting pitcher) will prove to be a hurdle as well.
“I do think eventually they’ll figure something out. It’s more complicated because starting pitching is such a commodity and the markets exploded for that, but there is a deal out there to be made. It’s probably short of what the Tigers offered Max Scherzer, but not that much shorter.”
The Red Sox do have some highly touted pitching prospects coming up through the organization, but none are ready to make contributions at the major league level in 2014. That, plus the expiring contracts of Jake Peavy, John Lackey, and the unknown of a Felix Doubront, the team may have no choice but to fork it over for Lester.
“I don’t think the Red Sox have much of a choice. Jake Peavy is gonna be a free agent. John Lackey is coming to the end of his contract. They don’t know what they have in Felix Doubront. Until some of their prospects turn out to be good players they can’t depend on those guys. I think they need to keep Lester, I don’t see how they can’t,” Abraham concluded.
Listen below for the full discussion, including the possible starting lineup for opening day and what the backup plan is for Koji Uehara should he falter at closer: