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Jon Lester says he’s not simply going to the highest bidder

Aug 13, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT

Jon Lester AP

Most of the time big free agents go to the highest bidder. They say beforehand that it’s not about the money, but it usually is. Jon Lester, however, is saying it’s not going to be like that. From NESN:

“(The Red Sox) told me (after the trade to Oakland), ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these (other) offers,’” Lester told the Boston Herald. “I’m like, ‘I don’t need to be blown out of the water.’ Why would I need to be blown out of the water? That doesn’t make or break your decision, at least for me. I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”

I feel like, unlike Carl Crawford, Lester is actually going to research this.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    I really do hope he comes back to Boston.

    However I expect any time someone says what he said for them to eventually sign with the Yankees for 20% more than anyone else on the open market offered.

    • geejon - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Why the Yankees and not the Red Sox? I don’t root for either team but for years it was always one or the other throwing around money like it was going out of style every winter. Did the Red Sox find religion after the Carl Crawford debacle? Doubt that’s the case anymore than the Yankees allowing themselves to be outbid for Cano being a sign of them changing their ways.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Considering the Red Sox wouldn’t go above 4 years/$70 million when pitchers of Lester’s caliber almost universally get five years and at least $90MM, I somewhat doubt they come back in and blow everybody away. As for the Yankees, they seem to have drawn a line in the sand on overpaying for superstars, not just mere stars.

      • geejon - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        @Kevin …The rest of the league sees the Red Sox and Yankees as 2 peas in a pod. For the longest they were 1-2 in payroll with no one even close to them and even as recently as 2-3 years ago they were trading for stars (Adrian Gonzalez) that small-market teams couldn’t afford or giving free agents (Carl Crawford) monster contracts. The combination of a disastrous season and the Dodgers getting new ownership with $ to spend gave Boston a way to hit the ‘reset’ button but it’s only a matter of time before they revert to throwing around money.

        They’re not going to stand for yearly last place finishes while waiting for the likes of Rubby De La Rosa, Allan Webster, Bradley Jr., Middlebrooks and Boagarts to become what they hoped they would. That team makes way too much money for the fans to be content with ownership pocketing it rather than spending it to bring in all-stars. This is a honeymoon year after winning it all last year but if things are going the same way next year I expect Boston to start using all that dough again.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        The rest of the league may see them the same, and I wouldn’t disagree in many respects, but there’s some pretty clear reasons to believe that the Red Sox won’t blow the doors down on Lester, which I’ve covered above.

      • carpi2 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        Geejon, I agree with your assessment of the ‘Sox. Since the beginning of their WS runs, they had worked themselves into being, Yankee-like, big spenders. Their fan base had been spoiled. It’ll be sooner, rather than later, before the front office begins to feel the pressure to “win now.”

    • judahbenhur - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      It is outrageous for Lester to be discussing this in the middle of a pennant race. The A’s traded a lot to get him and he lets the world know he wants to go back to Boston. And Boston had an off the record conversation with him saying we’re going to bring you back. Not cool. League should fine Lester and the Sox.

      • miedwards - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        First, Lester did not say he was going back to Boston. Second, the Red Sox did not say they were going to bring him back…after all, that is not their decision. Re-read the article.

    • lewtheunwashed - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:29 AM

      Class act. My son put his farewell in the Globe on the wall, next to the photo of a certain captain from a team from the Bronx we won’t mention. We will get tickets for his first game if he returns.

  2. yahmule - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    As God famously told Reggie White when the Packers backed up the Brinks truck, “Take the money!”

    • uwsptke - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      And unlike most free agent contracts, that one worked out pretty well for the player, the team, and the fans.

      • tfbuckfutter - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        Not the fans of Philadelphia.

        Which means it was an awesome move for everyone else.

  3. uwsptke - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    With the young, cost-controlled positional prospects that the Cubs are expected call up over the next year, I have a feeling that Theo & Jed are ready to splurge on pitching in free agency (as evidenced by claiming Cole Hamels last week). Obvious targets are Lester in 2015 and David Price in 2016.

    • Rick Cosmo - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      exactly

  4. nottinghamforest13 - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    It’s always interesting how God helps to guide players to the best destination for them & coincidentally the best destination winds up being the highest bidder. See: Pujols & Hamilton. God wouldn’t steer them towards a small market team on a reasonable contract to lift them from the depths. He’s all about grabbing the most cash.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Well Lester didn’t say anything about God so I’m not sure where this rant came from, but one would have to say that maximizing one’s earning potential is typically the smartest decision. I’m not religious at all but I did find your comment odd.

    • kardshark1 - Aug 13, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      If another company offered you 20% more money with better benefits for doing the same job, you’d put in your two weeks notice 5 minutes ago.

      Why in the world should a baseball player care about anything other than what’s financially best for him and his family?

      • miedwards - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        When you already have already earned tens of millions and will assuredly earn over a hundred million more before your career is over…money does not become the issue.

        If a company offered you $24MM and you already made $20MM but were happy in your current job, why would you leave? For $4MM more? What if your kids liked their school? What if your wife liked the area and had made many friends? What if you lived near family? It’s not always about money. Your comment is far too simplistic.

        I’m not sure where the better benefits comment comes from since the benefits are the same for all MLB players.

  5. danindelray - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Everyone thinks its impossible but until it happens I am taking Lester and the Red Sox front office at their word that they are seriously interested in a reunion and will cling to the hope that it does happen.

    Think of it then … two months of Jonny Gomes, Chemistry Major, for a year and two months of Cespedes.

    Anyone ever gone worst to first to worst to first? Yeah I may be delusional. Comes with the gig.

    • originalbosfan1 - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      No chance the Sox sign him back. He may not go to the highest bidder, but he’s going to want a long-term deal, and the Sox won’t give him the 6 or 7 years he desires.

    • southpaw2k - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      I expect the Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, and possibly the Cubs to get into a bidding war over Lester. The Yankees can’t be counted out, either. Calling a Lester return to Boston a done deal, or even the most likely outcome, is premature at best.

      And to answer your other question, I don’t think any team has ever had a span of going worst to first back to worst like the Red Sox have since 2012. Your description would have to be unprecedented if it happened, though I don’t see it being very likely.

  6. Rich Stowe - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    CC said it wasn’t about the money and he preferred to be in California….where did he wind up again?

    it’s one thing to say “it’s not about the money” when the money actually isn’t on the table it’s a whole different animal when that dollar figure is in front of you….we’ll see what he does when the Yankees and other teams like the Dodgers (or even Cubs) come calling with big bucks

  7. chargrz - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

    • southpaw2k - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Funny enough, there was a movie from about 10 years ago called Confidence, starring Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, and Paul Giamatti, about a guy who finds himself indebted to a mob boss and his thug.

      The tagline for the movie: “It’s not about the money. It’s about the money.”

  8. originalbosfan1 - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    That’s exactly what every player says before they go ahead and sign with the highest bidder. It panders to the hometown fans. “I’m not signing here just because they’re offering me the most money. I’m here because I believe in this organization, and I want to bring a championship to (insert highest-bidder here).”

    And, to be honest, why shouldn’t he sign with the highest bidder? If I had a marketable skill like that and had companies competing with each other for my services, I would certainly take the best deal on the table.

  9. larrymahnken - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    If the Red Sox told Lester after the trade that they’re going to be aggressive, isn’t that tampering?

    • the8man - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      No. It’s like when you tell a girl after you break up with her, “We can still be friends and hook up occasionally.”

  10. twinfan24 - Aug 13, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    It makes sense. It shouldn’t be only about the money. But, that said, if some other team offers 50% more than Boston, you can’t blame him if he takes it. But, if Boston or some other team comes in with enough money that he can live lavishly the rest of 3 life times, why not go there instead of taking the 5 life times of money at a place you may be miserable.

    • geejon - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      Players are pressured by both their agents and the players association to always take the highest bid because that raises the market for everyone else. Maybe they don’t have enough backbone to tell them to bugger off or maybe most are more than happy to uproot their families to another town because they offered $14 mil per year while their hometown offered $13 mil per year. Only they know why.

      • stex52 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        One reason is because the biggest salary has become a way of measuring who is best among the players. Witness Albert being “insulted” because the Cards only wanted to give him 210 MM$. Never mind that it is more money than their grandkids will ever spend.

  11. pete2112 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Sorry but 99 percent of the time you hear guys say it’s not about the money and ultimately 99 percent of the time it ends up being about the money. I know there are exceptions and maybe Lester will be that guy, but I honestly don’t think Boston is going to be the low ball offer come this off season. I would be shocked if they’re not going to go hard at getting him back along with other teams such as the Yankees and other big market teams. If he really likes Boston he should go back and we’ll see if what he says is genuine.

  12. sophiethegreatdane - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    If you’re not going to sign for the most money (and frankly, I don’t believe that for a second), wouldn’t you then sign with the team that has the best chance of winning a World Series? That’s certainly not the 2015 Red Sox.

    If he’s serious about not signing for the most cash, then he would just stay with the best team in the AL, which (to me) is the A’s. Or make a lateral move to a team like the Angels or Tigers. Heck, I’d give the Yankees a better chance of contending next season than the Sox.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      He didn’t say money was a non-factor, just that it wasn’t the only factor. And there are factors other than money and winning. Personal comfort is also a big one.

      • pete2112 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        That’s for sure. Just ask Carl Crawford.

    • the8man - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      Yes. Because predicting how the Red Sox will finish has been so easy the last four years.

  13. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    It was one thing when the Red Sox were the only team Lester ever knew. Then maybe he would take a discount to stay. If things go well in Oakland, he may see how easy it is to switch teams and still enjoy one’s self. Once that happens, really the money (or years+money) is the only difference.

    Can someone remind me again though why Boston needs its superstars to sign at discounted rates? Isn’t this the 2nd/3rd richest team in baseball we are talking about?

    • pete2112 - Aug 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      Oh boy. You’re going to open a can a worms with that question. The perception sure seems as though they’re a middle of the pack team with regard to payroll but reality says otherwise.

  14. philliesblow - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Scott Boras does not approve of this mindset.

  15. twpguy1964 - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Yeah right. And Barry Bonds said he’d play for free. If you weren’t concerned about money, you’d have signed back with Boston already! I hate all Boston teams but they can get better for the money you want, and your age

    • Kevin S. - Aug 13, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Barry Bonds did, in fact, offer to play for the major-league minimum in 2008. That nobody took him up on that offer is likely a sign of his being blackballed out of the game.

      • clemente2 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        True.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      If you weren’t concerned about money, you’d have signed back with Boston already

      He’s currently under contract with the A’s. He can’t sign with a new team until his contract is up, at the end of the year.

  16. irishlad19 - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    The agents have an interest in getting the biggest contract, both for their percentage commission and for maintaining their reputation as rain-makers for their clients.
    Most players go along with their agents’ advice.

  17. jfk69 - Aug 13, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    I love these sound bites these athletes throw out to answer some inane question that a reporter asks.
    It is not about the money.
    My wife really likes a child friendly location with good schools.
    I feel a real need to go back home and win a championship.
    bla bla bla
    Here is a tip when your paying an agent
    My agent will listen to all offers after the season. Then I will sit down with my family and decide. Sorry boys….. End of story.

  18. thatsnuckinfuts - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Cool story, the Red Sox are still not going beyond a 4 year deal

    • rje49 - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      Yeah, we all know how it’s played out. Teams know most player’s performance begins to fade by the time they hit around 35, and certainly by 40. So teams don’t want to commit a big bucks contract that includes too many of those years. On the other hand, the player is also aware of the eventual performance drop-off, so he wants to have as many of those years covered with guaranteed salary- because he knows if his contract ends at about age 35, he ain’t getting a new 5 year FA contract. There obviously have been some exceptions.

  19. bkool37 - Aug 13, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    I sure hope he doesn’t sign with BOS because that just seems wrong. BOS in a losing season can dump the guy and get something in return and then turn around and resign the guy. Just doesn’t seem right.

  20. extavernmouse - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Come home to Seattle, Jon. You know you want to…

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