Whether or not the Boston Red Sox look to sign Jon Lester to a contract extension before he reaches free agency following the 2014 season has been a popular topic of discussion this winter. There have been plenty of opinions on both sides of the coin – both for and against handing him a significant deal – but it would appear as though Lester’s preference is to remain with the Red Sox. Lester even told reporters, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, that he’d be willing to take a discount to do so.
I understand that to stay here, you’re not going to get a free agent deal. You’re not going to do it. You can’t. It’s not possible. You’re bidding against one team. I understand you’re going to take a discount to stay. Do I want to do that? Absolutely. But just like they want it to be fair to them, I want it to be fair for me and my family. If we can get to something hopefully in Spring Training, that’s awesome.
Lester did not place a deadline on extension talks, but it seems evident that he’s open to discussions with the team in order to help avoid this becoming a distraction in the months ahead. Lester will earn $13 Million this coming season. The 30 year old is 100-56 over his career adding a 3.76 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9 over 1,376.1 IP. He’s also made 11 postseason starts for the franchise, posting a 2.11 ERA and 1.043 WHIP over 76.2 IP.
Predicting what a potential extension might look like has never been an easy chore. The job certainly isn’t any easier now that Clayton Kershaw signed a $215 Million extension to remain with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lester and Kershaw are too very different players, so there was never a concern that Boston might be looking at close to a $200 Million deal here. MacPherson suggested back in December that the team could look more closely at Cole Hamels’ extension with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hamels signed his deal with Philadelphia when he was 28, two years younger than Lester, so MacPherson removes those two years from the equation. Essentially be breaks the deal down to a four year, $90 Million commitment for what they will get from Hamels from age 31 moving forward, with a $20 Million team option for a fifth year. Ultimately he suggests that the Red Sox could offer a similarly structured deal to Lester.
Lester was the first draft pick the team made following John Henry’s purchase of the organization. Locking him up for the foreseeable future may not be as much of a challenge as some initially believed. Lester made that clear to reporters:
I want to be here until they have to rip this jersey off my back.