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Jon Lester is willing to return to the Red Sox as a free agent even if they trade him

Jul 26, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT

350fd45295c3d1be13143b1085a354f9 AP

Jon Lester has made no secret of his desire to remain with the Red Sox for the long-term. However, with Boston sitting in last place in the American League East, there’s always the possibility that the club could trade the impending free agent for prospects before next Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Lester understands that and told Sean McAdam of after last night’s game that a trade wouldn’t preclude him from returning to the club during the offseason.

“I’ve been through it a couple times at a younger age,” said Lester of the specter of a trade. “If that’s where they want to go with it, that’s fine. No hard feelings. Hopefully, come November I’ll be right here and won’t have to worry about it.”

“Yeah, why not?” he said. “I mean, (Boston) is what I know, this is what I love. Like I’ve said plenty of times, this is where I want to be. And if they trade me I completely understand. No hard feelings. I know what they have to do for their organization and if that involves me, so be it. If it doesn’t I’ll keep running out there every five days and pitching.”

You don’t see this kind of scenario often, but it has happened. Mike Bordick, who was traded from the Orioles to the Mets in 2000 only to re-sign with Baltimore in the winter, immediately springs to mind. At least for this Mets fan.

Lester and the Red Sox have discussed a contract extension at various points this year, but progress has been hard to come by and the veteran southpaw recently tabled talks until after the season. The 30-year-old reportedly rejected a $70 million extension during spring training, which looked like a lowball offer at the time and even more so now that he has posted a 2.52 ERA over 21 starts. He’s likely looking at a deal well north of $100 million on the open market.

You can watch Lester’s comments in full below:

  1. joestemme - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    If that happens, the conspiracy nuts will have a field day.

    • gothapotamus90210 - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      how so? if he gets traded, a QO can’t be attached to him, making him even more valuable on the open market. sure, he’d like to come back to the sox if he’s traded, but they’d have to pay him even more than if they didn’t trade him.

      • joestemme - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        Well, it has happened before in sports where it’s a ‘wink wink I’ll come back’ agreement.

        Not saying it will happen with Lester, but, you know there will be folks crying foul.

    • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      How would that be a conspiracy? If Boston trades Lester, he is under no obligation to anyone at the end of the season. He is free to sign with whomever he wishes for whatever amount he will accept.

      In MLB, you don’t trade players, you trade contracts. No team should expect anything more that the contractual obligation to be met…after that, he’s a FA. Even if he re-signs with Boston for a below market deal because he loves playing in Boston, that is still nothing like a conspiracy…it is just a guy doing what he wants to do.

      • joestemme - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Why is everyone here so literal??


        I’m just saying that there will be those who cry conspiracy.

        Read your words folks.

      • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM


        Well, those people would be stupid, wouldn’t they, and they should be ignored both at the time and before their stupidity manifests.

  2. proudlycanadian - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    He was being heavily scouted last night. The Red Sox have now lost 4 in a row and have little chance to make the playoffs. They may as well trade him.

    • pisano - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      pc…..I don’t know if I’m correct or not, but I don’t think any other team has gone from last to first to last again in the history of baseball. I’m sure some stat guys out there will know, so the Sox have that to look forward to.

    • TheMorningStar - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      No. Why trade Lester when he’s the best pitcher in your rotation? Sure, the 2014 season is a lost cause; but no one would have expected the quick turnaround from 2012 (last) to 2013 (MLB champions).

      The Sox problems are on the offensive side, not the pitching staff.

      And besides, any fan whose team has been rebuilding for 20+ seasons should concentrate on their own team. Come back when Toronto finally decides to stop letting the Yankees make them their bit*h.

      • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:02 AM

        Maybe to adress those power concerns you have so helpfully provided?

      • shutton83 - Jul 27, 2014 at 3:21 AM

        The appeal to trading Lester would be to get maximum return if we can’t resign him, we could trade him to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson (a 5 tool outfielder, something the Sox would love to have) instead of getting a 1st round draft pick when he signs elsewhere. If we believe we can resign him the we shouldn’t trade him but if there’s more then 50% doubt I would say get what ya can. We always have the option of resigning him but if we don’t trade him now we lose the proven prospects, I love Lester but him being here right now doesn’t benefit anyone.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:22 AM


    • proudlycanadian - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Patience! Peavy is going to be traded today.

    • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:14 AM

      Lackey is going to be tough as (I believe) he has already said:

      Lackey:You know that clause I signed? F*%# it
      Cherington:Yeah,but you signed it in good faith,you know,in case of injury?
      Lackey:Yeah but f*%@ it,game on bitches.
      Cherington:Well about that,it seems if you threaten to retire,no teams are willing to trade for you.
      Lackey:Noy my problemn,la-di-da-da-doo
      Cherington:Honor it or quit,I am gonna keep you for next year at the league minimum. Game on Biaaatch! I will always cherish the Draft pick.

  4. twinfan24 - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    I am actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often. If you want to hang around for the long term, let them trade you to help the team, go play somewhere else a few months and then resign with the old team. But, far too many players seem to get their feelings hurt if even mentioned in trade talks.

    • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      I totally agree….but I think one thing that often happens is that players realize that moving to a different teams wasn’t all that traumatic. They enjoyed the experience, removing the fear of changing teams. Plus, when this happens it is often a trade from a losing franchise to a winning one…and 1) players are more likely to look for a combination of a winning team and a good contract, and 2) the former team likely isn’t in a position to justify spending money on an older player in FA depending on their position on the win curve.

    • joestemme - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:18 PM


      And, that’s what I wrote.

      Yet this comment gets 5 thumbs up, and mine gets majority thumbs down.

      Do folks have a prejudice against guys named “joe” or something? Or, is this a Pro-Twins vote??????????

      • stac266 - Jul 26, 2014 at 1:40 PM


      • paperlions - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        That is actually not at all what you wrote.

      • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:18 AM

        Why do you even care if you get thumb-sucked? You either make sense or you do not,there is no try.

  5. Glenn - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    In one of the worst trades of all time, the Red Sox traded minor-leaguer Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for middle reliever Larry Anderson, who promptly resigned with the Astros in the off-season.

    • joestemme - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      The fact that Anderson resigned wasn’t what made it one of the worst trades of all time!

      It was the fact that the Red Sox traded a future Hall of Fame level player for a washed up journeyman!

      • gothapotamus90210 - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        Bagwell was a light hitting, terrible fielding third basemen in the minors. He hit for average, but no power – 4 HR in 481 ABs at AA in 1990. Nobody in their wildest dreams would’ve projected him to be a player that would perennially hit 35-40 HRs. At the time, it really didn’t look like a bad deal.

      • Glenn - Aug 11, 2014 at 2:00 AM

        True that. They put all their eggs in the Scott Cooper basket, which is who the Astros wanted in the trade.

    • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:21 AM

      Was not Mo Vaughn blocking him at 1b?

      • Glenn - Aug 11, 2014 at 1:58 AM

        He was playing third base at the time. He was blocked by another PED user at third base in Houston – Ken Caminitti, which is why he was moved to first. I know saying Bagwell was a PED user is controversial, but I have a friend who went to high school with him. Despite being a great high school athlete, he was small. He got big when he started working out with a PED using body builder while still in high school.

  6. irishlad19 - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    This opens up the possibility for the BoSox to trade for a young power hitter they can control for a few years, then re-sign Lester as a FA for what they will have to pay him anyway if they want him back.
    I like this option!

    • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:23 AM

      Exactly this.^

  7. 1friendofthepeople - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Brilliant move by Lackey…

    Red Sox: “Lackey is a helluva player fellas, you’re trading for a great talent”.

    Other team: “The same Lackey that said he loves Boston and would resign there in the off-season? I don’t think so”.

    End of trade talks

    Red Sox: “God damn-it Lackey, you weren’t supposed to tell anyone you would resign with us In the off season. You were supposed to be pissed off and act like you mightt want an extension with the team that was interested in trading for you”.

    Lackey: “I thought that was just a wicked awesome joke, coach. Why would anyone ever want to leave a place as gawgeous and full-a history as Baston? Everyone knows every city but here is gahbage cities full-a people jealous of haw killa we awe. Let’s say a couple a chowdaheads like you and me get some chowda in Southie, then we can watch some wicked cool Bahston movies Good Will Haunting”.

    Red Sox coach: “God damn-it Jon you’re not even freaggin from Boston!…. you are such a freaggin idiot. This is why people from Boston don’t like you.”

    • slappymcknucklepunch - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      I think you over-estimated the “friends”part of the people,but yeah. You have our dialect down.

      To think that the Departed was your intro to Boston patois is just sterling.

      Or as they may say in the south “bless your heart”.

  8. sidelineshot - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    The Red Sox would need a 3-team trade to get a power bat for Lester.

    A contending team would want Lester, but not by giving up a proven big stick in their mayor league roster, as they also need said bat to make a run.

    The team that gets Lester would have to send top prospects to the 3rd team that would send the Sox the big bat.

  9. drewzducks - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Trade him to a team that won’t be inclined to offer him the 5+ years/$23+M he’s probably looking for in the offseason (thinking St. Louis/Oakland/Pitt). Might as well try to minimize the chances of his growing attached during those 2-3 months. Also, until he is traded, nothing is preventing the Sox and his representatives from working on the parameters of an agreement for next season and beyond. Hell, given the now obvious fate of this year’s team, I’d even give him a list of teams he’d be agreeable to be “loaned out to” for the rest of the season. He will net them a couple of decent prospects who can help the Sox, and hopefully a re-signed Lester going forward. The team that would concern me most is Seattle. Hoping that the Rays lose about 6 in a row but that will be difficult seeing that their next two are against said drooping Sox. Though an offseason Rays/Mariners trade wouldn’t shock me.

  10. lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Well that should do wonders for his trade value

  11. ryanaammess - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Trade him to the Bucs.

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