We already knew that the Red Sox and left-hander Jon Lester tabled extension talks at the end of spring training, but now we have some details about the negotiations. And it doesn’t bode well for his chances of staying in Boston.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Boston’s most recent offer to Lester was a four-year deal worth $70 million. This confirms reports from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. That’s an AAV (average annual value) of $17.5 million. Lester has expressed a desire to stay in Boston and take a hometown discount, but that sounds awfully low.
According to Rosenthal, Lester rejected the offer and will not resume negotiations until after the season. Given the lucrative market for starting pitching, the Red Sox will likely have to significantly improve their offer in order to keep him from testing the free agent market.
Lester is coming off a bounceback year and owns a 2.57 ERA through three starts this season. He turns 31 next January.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.