Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The buzz around Red Sox camp throughout the past few days has surrounded the potential contract extensions of starting pitcher Jon Lester and designated hitter David Ortiz. Recent reports indicate that the pair of franchise icons, each in their contract years, are close to signing extensions with the Red Sox and likely will sign extensions with the Red Sox by the season opener in Baltimore on March 31.
Each player generated a fair amount of attention this offseason due to their impending contract years– David Ortiz with his outspoken self-advocation and Jon Lester with his selfless, Pedroia-like attitude towards an extension. Red Sox management has made clear, however, that they fully intend both players to finish their careers in Boston. And while there had been a recent dry spell as far as reports of the negotiations’ progress, both players seem confident that they could achieve this goal.
David Ortiz’s agent Fernando Cuza has reportedly met three times with Red Sox management. A 38 year old designated hitter, David Ortiz is not asking for a large contract; he is essentially asking for a repeat of the one year and $15MM that he will make in 2014. However, considering the .309/.395/.564 slash line and the 30 home runs and 103 RBIs last season, that $15MM contract could easily wind up being quite a bargain.
Similarly, while Lester will likely command a hefty salary even in an extension, his contract value will likely fall far short of the expected contract he could make on the open market. On multiple occasions, however, Lester has stated that he loves Boston and would like to finish his career with the Red Sox. Lester shares the same agents as Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who negotiated an extremely team-friendly 8 year/$110MM contract extension with the Red Sox this summer, indicating that he also could sign an inexpensive long-term deal (relatively speaking, of course) that will let the 30-year old retire a Red Sox.
There haven’t been many definite numbers appearing, but both players seem confident that a deal will be reached and that’s good enough for me. Though he angered many with his contract grumbling this offseason, David Ortiz is well worth a 1 year/$15MM extension after a year that put him in the top ten for MVP voting as a designated hitter. Similarly, while Lester is not going to be an ace– that much is clear– he is a top-of-the-rotation starter and even more than that, a true icon in Boston. If the Red Sox can negotiate reasonable contracts with both players, and do so without distracting the players’ performance by negotiating during the season, then they should by all means.