BOSTON (CBS) — Jon Lester is set to hit the free agent market following this season. The Red Sox are hoping they can keep that from happening.
The Red Sox have re-engaged Lester’s representation in contract talks, according to a report by ESPN. Extension talks between the two sides stalled in April when the Red Sox offered Lester a four-year, $70 million deal, but according to the report, Boston has upped their offer.
Given Lester’s strong start to the season, not to mention Saturday night’s gem against the Yankees, the lefty’s price has likely gone up.
Lester denied the two sides have resumed contract talks over the weekend.
“There has been no offer, there have been no new talks,” Lester told ESPN Saturday night. “I’ve been talking to [general manager] 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.”
In 17 starts this season, Lester is 9-7 with a 2.92 ERA, striking out 115 batters in 114 innings pitched. Saturday night in New York he allowed one unearned run over eight innings of work against the Yankees, picking up his ninth win of the year.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino hinted earlier in the year that the team could ignite talks with Lester again before the end of the season. Boston’s ace said over the weekend that talks could resume over the All Star Break, but he would prefer to just focus on his job on the field.
“I’ve said this to Ben, my biggest concern is something bad happening.” said Lester, worried that talks could fall apart again. “Obviously both sides want to get something done, but what if we don’t? It’s Boston, it’s going to get leaked at some point, and then it’s a distraction. We don’t need distractions. We need to worry about playing good baseball.”
In his nine-year MLB career — all with the Red Sox — Lester is 109-63 with a 3.70 ERA. He is 6-4 in 13 postseason games with a 2.11 ERA, including 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three World Series starts.
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones and Mike Flynn filled in for Toucher & Rich Monday morning, and they had on Boston Globe beat reporter Pete Abraham to discuss, among other things, the latest in the Jon Lester negotiations.