With Clayton Kershaw signing a seven-year, $215 million extension with the Dodgers last week and Masahiro Tanaka landing a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees this week, the market for starting pitching is very lucrative right now. Jon Lester is currently due to hit free agency after next season, but he told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston today that he wants to stay with the Red Sox and like teammate Dustin Pedroia, he’s willing to take a discount in order to make it happen.
“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.”
Lester is pretty adamant about his desire to remain in Boston, but no talks have taken place yet. While he’s hoping that will change during spring training, he hasn’t put a timeline on negotiations. He’ll be 31 next January, so a four or five-year deal in the $80-100 million range makes some sense, though his idea of a “discount” could be different than the Red Sox.
Lester, a second-round pick of the Red Sox in 2002, is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA over his first eight seasons in the majors. He posted a 3.75 ERA and 177/67 K/BB ratio over a career-high 213 1/3 innings last season. The southpaw had a 1.56 ERA in five starts during the team’s World Series run.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.