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Jon Lester says he would be willing to take a discount to stay with the Red Sox

Jan 23, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT

Jon Lester Getty AP

With Clayton Kershaw signing a seven-year, $215 million extension with the Dodgers last week and Masahiro Tanaka landing a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees this week, the market for starting pitching is very lucrative right now. Jon Lester is currently due to hit free agency after next season, but he told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston today that he wants to stay with the Red Sox and like teammate Dustin Pedroia, he’s willing to take a discount in order to make it happen.

“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 for them, I want it to be fair for me and my family.”

Lester is pretty adamant about his desire to remain in Boston, but no talks have taken place yet. While he’s hoping that will change during spring training, he hasn’t put a timeline on negotiations. He’ll be 31 next January, so a four or five-year deal in the $80-100 million range makes some sense, though his idea of a “discount” could be different than the Red Sox.

Lester, a second-round pick of the Red Sox in 2002, is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA over his first eight seasons in the majors. He posted a 3.75 ERA and 177/67 K/BB ratio over a career-high 213 1/3 innings last season. The southpaw had a 1.56 ERA in five starts during the team’s World Series run.

  1. pastabelly - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:53 PM

    Lester is one of true class acts in baseball. The Red Sox should go 6/120 for him. He’s earned it and could get moreon the open market.

    • dan1111 - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      I like Lester, but I would be worried about committing that much money to him.

      2013 was a bounce back from the previous year, but it should not be taken as a return to dominance. He was only a bit above average (109 ERA+), looked shaky much of the time, and his peripherals were closer to 2012 than previous seasons.

  2. luisrivasbuttocks - Jan 23, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    I’m sure his agent cringed a bit while reading this. However if you are going to comment about your contract situation this is about the best way to go about it. I’d be pleased to hear this if I rooted for the Sawx.

  3. evermench - Jan 23, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    Being a Jays fan I’ve seen Lester pitch quite a few times. The guy is a straight up competitor and winner and I have no doubt the Red Sox will take care of one of their own. He won’t be taking much of a discount nor should he have to.

  4. tfbuckfutter - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    It was great to see him right the ship.

    After his sub-par 2012 I thought we’d eventually see an ugly parting.

  5. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 23, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Corey Hart said he would take a discount to stay in Milwaukee. Him and his wife then prayed about it and god said take the money. Better hope Lester doesn’t go to church with 2 offers on the table.

    • paperlions - Jan 24, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      That always happens. As long as Lester doesn’t seek God’s opinion, RS fans should be pretty optimistic about a fair deal getting done.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        I agree.

  6. sawxalicious - Jan 24, 2014 at 3:12 AM

    If anything, this comment may make ownership feel the heat to get a fair extension in place. Lester is saying he’s willing to give a little to stay, so ownership will be seen as unreasonable to the fan base if they can’t put something fair together. I hope he does stay. I think 5/105 would be very fair to both sides.

  7. theskinsman - Jan 24, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    Good for Lester. I agree ownership will be pressed to find him a deal that makes everyone happy. As a Sox fan, I’m thrilled the team keeps their best pitcher.

  8. gibbyfan - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    “But just like they want it to be fair for them, I want it to be fair for me and my family.”

    Translation:
    Yea I’d like to stay in Boston but I really want to get free agent money without worrying about free agency and the risks of intervening injury.

    How many times are gazillionaires going to drag out that old saw about how a few dollars less would cause their a family sacrafice ?

    • paperlions - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      By gazillionaires, I assume you are referring to the owners….you know, the rich guys with no talent and a monopoly, each of which make far more money than any player despite a lack of talent, and that extort money from local and state tax payers, that collude legally (draft, up to 13 years of player control before a player hits FA) and illegally all of the time to maximize their profits, and that have generally acted as parasites on the talent of baseball players for the last 120 years, while they cut spending and raise ticket prices year after year.

      If you are ever on the side of owners in a dispute about money between them and players, you are on the wrong side.

      • joshfrancis50 - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        Like it or not, baseball is a business. To say the owners who have been successful business men in other endeavors lack talent is wrong. But as a business, don’t they have the right to use whatever leverage, within the guidelines of the law and the players association, to maximize their utility?

        I don’t often agree with the way many things in the business of baseball shake out, but that doesn’t make them villains, in my opinion.

      • paperlions - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:23 AM

        Most don’t have talent with respect to the business of baseball…you don’t have to be a good business man to make money in a monopoly.

      • gibbyfan - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        First and foremost I am no real fan many of the practices of big business,especially special interests and ‘welfare for the rich’ etc.but having said that, most of the people who own sports franchises (or their family in the case of the Yankees and some others) are extremely talented individuals who were able to succeed financially in our capatalistic system far beyond what working people like me could ever dream of……In the process of getting wealthy they create jobs and help the economy. Of course there are bad actors among the rich too but if it were not for the owners with their considerable capital investments there would be no MLB or NFL……so unless you are a far left socialist let’s at least give the credit where credit it due………………….the players on the other hand essentailly are for the most part people blesses with certain physical skills that enable them to make tons of money for playing a game……..

  9. nymets4ever - Jan 24, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    God forbid his family suffer the agonizing pittance of a $115 million contract instead of $120 million, lol

  10. nategearhart - Jan 24, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Whatever he is worth, the Red Sox can afford. Why should he have to give them a discount?

    • dan1111 - Jan 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      Because not all teams agree on what he is worth. If the Sox value him at $100 million, but some other team offers $120 million, then he would have to take a $20 million pay cut to stay in Boston.

      • nategearhart - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:28 AM

        I agree, but this seems to be implying that if Boston values him at $100 million, and they offer him $85 million, Lester would be willing to take it because it’s Boston. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.

  11. sawxalicious - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Many times a player does bolt in free agency for the money (A-Rod leaving Seattle, Giambi leaving Oakland, etc.). I imagine that if I was a talented MLB player and could pretty much choose my team via free agency, I’d value comfort and familiarity over a small percentage of what is likely tens of millions of dollars anyways. I think the guys that leaves comfortable situation for more dollars have big ego issues that equate dollars with respect ( in the business of baseball, it’s not an entirely unreasonable conclusion). But when you look at the Pujols situation, my opinion is that Albert was unreasonable. He was offered a fair contract that compensated him well and would not have been an albatross. He felt disrespected that StL wouldn’t mortgage their future on him, so he left. I think Lester and the RS will get something done that is fair to both sides. He likes being there, they like him being there, it’s a good situation.

  12. jackybadass - Jan 24, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Pay the man! Use dice k’s and jd’s money.

  13. johnnycantread - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Play for a discount?… Is Lester confusing the BoSox with the Patriots?

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