Roche: Questions Remain About Lester’s Future With Red Sox

By Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports

BOSTON (CBS) – Jon Lester has had another solid season for the Red Sox. In fact, if you look at his numbers through 17 starts, he’s having as good a season as he’s had in years.

In those 17 starts, he’s thrown 114 innings giving up 106 hits, 37 earned runs while walking 29 and striking out 115. He’s 9-7 with a 2.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.184. He’s on pace to have some of the best…if not the best….numbers of his big league career.

Surprised? Nope.

After all, he just turned 30 and had a tremendous postseason for the ’13 World Series champions. In 5 starts he went 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA, including a 2-0 mark in the World Series. If not for David Ortiz, he may have been the WS MVP.

So, now we hear that Lester and the Sox have agreed (again) to table contract talks until after the season following a report from Buster Olney that had the two sides rekindling negotiations.

CBS’s Jon Heyman tweeted Friday: “Lester tells #redsox he’d prefer to table contract talks. Sides interested in deal but it’ll wait til winter.”

Surprised? Nope.

I thought during the spring that the two sides might be able to work out an extension. I knew that the Red Sox would low-ball the lefty with their initial offer, which they did in his last negotiation.

However, I didn’t think that they would open up as far below market value as they did at 4 years and 70-million dollars.

I also know that Lester is as mature and level a headed kid that you’ll come across in baseball. He’s in a good place. He also has to realize, especially now, that out on the open market he will get a huge payday. My guess is a starting point would be 5-7 years at 20 million dollars per season. Max Scherzer turned down 6 years at 24-million per season and Lester isn’t far off with the impressive numbers he’s putting up.

In the gambling department……he’s winning right now (think Yankees).

The Red Sox will make offers in the off-season, but will it be enough? Will they come up that high?

Lester uttered the “hometown discount” words last winter. The Red Sox will ask him to abide by those words this offseason. Will he? Depends on how close they come to open market numbers.

Jon Lester has very good agents in Sam and Seth Levinson. They are known to be deal-makers. Larry Lucchino likes to take negotiations to the edge… the point of almost no return…..but then has the ability to close the deal. He’s done it before with franchise stars in San Diego (Trevor Hoffman) and Baltimore (Cal Ripken, Jr).

So now we wait. Do the Sox think they need Lester to win now and be a mentor to the next group of young stars on the horizon in Workman, Ranaudo, Barnes, Owens, Johnson, etc……? And, will they come up to a fair price?

Still questions out there. And we’ve got no answers coming any time soon.


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