At least in the world of the 2014 Fansided Faux Winter Meetings. Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox agreed to terms on a six year/$140 million contract Saturday afternoon, while also inking RHP Mike Adams to a two year/$10.5 million contract, and Gerald Laird to a one year deal valued at one million.
Before we get into the Lester deal, I should note that the Adams signing comes in the wake of a failed physical by fellow right hander Luke Hochevar, who was initially going to be signing in Boston before team physicians concluded that the condition of his elbow was not to their satisfaction based on the report they received from his agent. The team attempted to restructure the contract like they did with Mike Napoli in 2013, but were unable to agree on a new deal. Hochevar has instead signed with the Cleveland Indians who were willing to gamble on Hochevar’s inflamed elbow.
Now, more exciting things! Maybe? It seems as though the majority of Red Sox nation is ready to welcome back fan favorite Lester, even on what will likely be an exorbitant contract by it’s end. And for those who are not… I don’t know what to tell you. Can’t please everyone as a (Co)GM, BUT, hear me out. In my opinion, the Red Sox have one of two choices this off-season. They can (over)pay big to contend next year, or stand pat and rely on their young players to develop as they did this year. After watching this year unfold, the team decided that they were going to select the first option.
This is certainly risky, as we have seen from players like CC Sabathia and even Justin Verlander, but this team has no organizational talent that will be ready to step into the role of number one starter next year or even the next few years. This is a team with very few options if it hopes to compete. It may ultimately create problems down the road, but if the team continues to spend smartly at other positions and maintain a top notch farm system these potential problems will be less worrisome. Another consideration we took into account was the reduced rate we were able to acquire Sandoval for. Getting him for less money and fewer years than we anticipated alleviated some concerns present in handing Lester such a large contract.
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Now, as for next year, this is undoubtedly an exciting move. Alongside Andrew Cashner, another faux acquisition, Lester will immediately give the rotation credibility. Joe Kelly proved to be a steady producer, and the Red Sox have a bevy of young talent to fill out the back of their rotation, along with a hopefully resurgent Clay Buchholz. Christian Vasquez will make all of these pitchers better with his pitch framing skills and Gerald Laird will be a veteran presence as a platoon partner to the young catcher.
Whether or not Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval become the next Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez remains to be seen. But I don’t think they will. Unlike the 2012 Red Sox filled with players signed to long contracts, Boston has very few commitments beyond Dustin Pedroia and Rusney Castillo next to these two free agent signings. As long as they don’t go back to making it a habit to build through free agency and destroying their farm depth with win-now blockbuster trades, I think they will be able to win games both now and keep the 5 year window open.
This likely marks the end of the Red Sox activity in the 2014 Fansided Faux Winter Meetings… but with just over a day to go, you never know. With Lester and Cashner to anchor our rotation, and Sandoval to fill our hole at 3B, plus Alex Torres, Gerald Laird and Mike Adams, we think we did pretty well. Let us know how you think we did in the comments.