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Jon Lester Wants to Remain on Boston Red Sox for Life

January 24th, 2014 at 11:13 AM
By Ron Juckett

'Jon Lester' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Jon Lester wants to pitch for the Boston Red Sox until “…they rip this jersey off my back.”

That is what the 30-year-old left-handed starter told reporters Thursday afternoon before attending the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers of America annual dinner in Copley Square.

On the subject of whether Lester would take the proverbial hometown discount to stay with the Red Sox, he replied:

"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. If we can get to something hopefully in Spring Training, that's awesome."

Specifically mentioning good friend and teammate Dustin Pedroia as his role model, Lester added, "I want to be here 'til they rip this jersey off my back."

Lester—a free agent after this season if he does not extend his contract with Boston—comes into the 2014 on an option year that will pay him $13 million. The conventional wisdom says, in light of the New York Yankees recent deal with Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka and the Los Angeles Dodgers monster extension of Clayton Kershaw, that Lester is in line for a deal similar to Tanaka’s. Something along the line of $22 million per season on the open market.

Recent conventional wisdom also tells you that Lester’s probable extension will see him sign a deal that pays in the neighborhood of $20 million annually to stay with the Red Sox. The basics of the package would probably be a five-year base at $100 million with one or two vesting options that could drive the total price of keeping him in a Sox uniform for the rest of his career up to $140 million.

Lester’s detractors will balk at that number. They will point to his awful 2012 where he went 9-14 and an ERA that ballooned to 4.82 as the primary reason the Sox should not be opening up the vaults for that much money and for that many years.

If that truly is the case, then they did not pay close enough attention when the Lester of old returned for a 4-1 playoff run in 2013. In 35.2 innings, he surrendered 25 hits, six earned runs and eight walks while striking out 25.

Forget the 0.59 ERA and 0.652 WHIP in the 2013 World Series and key on the 2012 season instead. They would have you believe he is washed up.

The reality is different.

Yes, he is not Kershaw or Justin Verlander, but Lester still belongs in that tier of pitchers that will win you a game that you absolutely need. The best part is he want to do all this pitching for the Boston Red Sox.

With 100-career wins already, there is a very good chance with a long-term extension, and provided he stays healthy, that by the end of Lester’s career he will be the team’s all-time winningest pitcher. More wins than Pedro Martinez or Tim Wakefield. More than Roger Clemens or even Cy Young. He needs 93 more.

Lester really is that good.

*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester, Masahiro Tanaka, MLB

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