Jon Lester is willing to return to the Red Sox as a free agent even if they trade him

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Jon Lester has made no secret of his desire to remain with the Red Sox for the long-term. However, with Boston sitting in last place in the American League East, there’s always the possibility that the club could trade the impending free agent for prospects before next Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Lester understands that and told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com after last night’s game that a trade wouldn’t preclude him from returning to the club during the offseason.

“I’ve been through it a couple times at a younger age,” said Lester of the specter of a trade. “If that’s where they want to go with it, that’s fine. No hard feelings. Hopefully, come November I’ll be right here and won’t have to worry about it.”

“Yeah, why not?” he said. “I mean, (Boston) is what I know, this is what I love. Like I’ve said plenty of times, this is where I want to be. And if they trade me I completely understand. No hard feelings. I know what they have to do for their organization and if that involves me, so be it. If it doesn’t I’ll keep running out there every five days and pitching.”

You don’t see this kind of scenario often, but it has happened. Mike Bordick, who was traded from the Orioles to the Mets in 2000 only to re-sign with Baltimore in the winter, immediately springs to mind. At least for this Mets fan.

Lester and the Red Sox have discussed a contract extension at various points this year, but progress has been hard to come by and the veteran southpaw recently tabled talks until after the season. The 30-year-old reportedly rejected a $70 million extension during spring training, which looked like a lowball offer at the time and even more so now that he has posted a 2.52 ERA over 21 starts. He’s likely looking at a deal well north of $100 million on the open market.

You can watch Lester’s comments in full below:

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.