BOSTON (CBS) — Jon Lester wants to wait until the off-season to discuss a new contract with the Red Sox, and was a little surprised when the team made an offer earlier this season.
That offer, reportedly for four-years and $70 million, is nowhere near what Lester could get on the open market, and the team is prepared to up the ante a little bit according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. But in an interview with Heyman at the All-Star game in Minnesota, Lester said he and his representatives still haven’t received any new offer.
Word from people familiar with the talks suggest the Red Sox were actually prepared to raise their initial suggestion of $70 million for four years to $100 million for five years, or thereabouts. But Lester said he never was given that new number, or any new number. Not that it would have mattered. He’s concentrating on the games only for now.
“We never received a [new] offer,” he said. “The conversation had picked up. But there never was an offer thrown out there.”
It was reported in this space on July 4 that Lester told the team around that time that contract talk “isn’t a priority.” And while he casually mentioned in a group setting here at the All-Star Game interview session that talks could re-start “tomorrow or four months from now,” it’s pretty clear that months from now is the more realistic option of the two.
Heyman joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak from Minnesota on Tuesday, and while he doesn’t think the Red Sox and Lester will agree to a deal during the season, he sees the lefty back in the Boston rotation in 2015.
“He loves it in Boston and they want him back, and I think it’s a very good chance he does go back. But I’d be surprised to see a deal in-season,” said Heyman. “When he talked to the group [of reporters on Monday] he casually mentioned they could have a deal tomorrow or four months from now, but my understanding was they approached him and intended to make a four- year, $100 million offer, but he never received that offer.
“It’s hard to see him inviting new in-season discussions. It’s rare to see a player sign up with two months to go until free agency,” said Heyman.
For his recent article on Lester, Heyman spoke with four MLB executive and four agents about what they think the 30-year-old could get this off-season:
His price is moving so swiftly that eight execs and agents (four apiece), none involved in this case, suggested he’d get between $125 million and $189 million as a free agent. A few of the guessers mentioned the $144 million Cole Hamels deal and the $147 million Zack Greinke deal, but the biggest predictions were for seven years, with one coming in at $175 million and another $189 million. In other words, $25 million and $27 million annually.
“The market is going up for an ace pitcher, and he’s an ace pitcher,” Heyman said of Lester. “If he wants, he’s in position to get a lot of money elsewhere.”