Jon Lester is three months from hitting the open market as a free agent and Red Sox president Larry Lucchino revealed during a radio interview that the left-hander has informed the team he won’t negotiate a new contract until after the season.
In other words: He’s going to be a free agent.
According to Lucchino during his appearance on WEEI in Boston “the parties have agreed to let’s step away and do this after the season” because “Jon made very clear to us that that was his preference.”
Lester reportedly rejected a $70 million extension offer from the Red Sox back in April, which isn’t surprising considering the 30-year-old is in line for well over $100 million if he can simply get to the offseason healthy following what’s shaping up to be a career-year.
Lester has a career-low 2.50 ERA in 20 starts, posting a 142/31 K/BB ratio in 137 innings for the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career. He has a sub-4.00 ERA in six of his seven full seasons as a starter, going 99-61 with a 3.54 ERA in 214 total starts during that time while logging at least 190 innings in every season. He might able to double that $70 million offer on the open market.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.