BOSTON (CBS) – Although he remains optimistic, ace pitcher Jon Lester remains without a contract with the Red Sox for next season and beyond.
After helping the Red Sox win their third World Series title in a decade last season, the 30-year-old left-hander becomes a free agent at season’s end because the two sides could not come to terms on an agreement from the offseason and spring training til now.
Al Leiter thinks the Red Sox are making a huge mistake.
The former player and MLB Network analyst joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show Thursday to explain the dynamic of being a free agent from a player’s perspective and how the Red Sox have botched the negotiation thus far.
“Do you think the future of Jon Lester is here with the Red Sox next season?” Rich asked to start things off.
“No,” Leiter said bluntly. “Don’t allow a guy that you want to become a free agent. Period. If you really want somebody — all this stuff like ‘We don’t negotiate during the season’ and so on and so forth — if you want somebody and you value them don’t let money be an issue.
“I love Jon Lester. I think he’s a stud. He’s a front-end pitcher. He’s a bulldog. He’s a hard worker. He’s a good guy — all the things I like about a player he just fits for me. I don’t know what the dollar amount is. But if you’re going to allow a guy with the pedigree of a Jon Lester to go and become a free agent and let other teams wine and dine you, it’s going to be difficult when you’re weighing all the options and your existing team could have already signed you.
“I was a free agent for the first time in Toronto. They were going to sign me in 1995 and they said let’s hold off. Other teams came knocking and it became an attractive, fun thing; the process of having other teams court you. I just don’t know if it makes a lot of sense [for Lester to return to the Red Sox].”
Listen below to the full interview, including what it was like playing with A. J. Pierzynski, the Red Sox championship hangover, the youth movement and much more: