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.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.