Halfway through what has been an inconsistent season for the Sox, the rotation continues to hold its own… for the most part. This of course includes Jon Lester, whose first half of the season showed impressive numbers (nine wins, 2.29 ERA in 17 games). The Sox tried to lock down the veteran southpaw with a contract extension back in April, offering him $70 million for four years, but Lester said no.
Now, halfway into the season, Buster Olney of ESPN has reported that the Red Sox have begun discussing contract options regarding the 30-year old lefty once again. According to the report, the Red Sox have boosted their offer in an effort to ink Lester before he becomes a free agent this offseason.
Despite their efforts, Lester has remained uninterested, and even denies the claim that contract offers have taken place.
“There has been no offer, there have been no new talks,” Lester said. “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.”
So why is Lester so intent on keeping contract discussions out of the way? Perhaps he thinks his time is Boston will be finished after this season.
As for now the Tacoma, Washington native says that he doesn’t want the talks to be a distraction.
“I’ve said this to (GM) Ben (Cherington), my biggest concern is something bad happening [talks falling apart]. 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.”
“Like I’ve said before, I think it’s an added distraction that we don’t need right now, We need to focus on playing good baseball and getting back to the top of the East and going from there, hopefully getting to the playoffs. We don’t need to be worried about my contract stuff. That’s the last thing I want these guys to have to answer questions about. I mean, kind of like tonight. We got a big win, took a series from the Yankees, playing good baseball and we’re sitting here talking about this. This is the last thing we need to be talking about right now.”
Maybe Lester is being honest with us, and wants his team to be focused on the present, where they sit 6.0 games back from the AL East lead.
Or maybe, he’s got other plans on his mind.