Red Sox Notes: Lester, Drew, Tanaka

Jon Lester is entering his last season under contract with the Red Sox and Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explores what it might cost Boston to re-sign Lester to a new multiyear deal.  Lester will be 31 on Opening Day 2015, so MacPherson uses the age 31-34 years of Cole Hamels' contract as a model, adding a guaranteed fifth to propose a five-year, $100MM extension for Lester.  While Lester re-established his value in the postseason and the Sox have been willing to lock up homegrown players, MacPherson also wonders if the club is confident enough in its young pitching depth to let Lester go rather than pay him a big salary through that would be his decline years.

Here are some more Red Sox-related items, all from Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe

  • The Red Sox currently hold all the leverage on Stephen Drew, and that leverage could become "a hammer," Abraham writes.  Since Boston seems willing to wait out Drew's market, the relative lack of interest in the veteran infielder makes Abraham believe the Sox could offer Drew a one-year, "take it or leave it" type of offer if Drew is still unsigned by mid-January.  If Drew turns the offer down, the Sox will be content with collecting the compensatory draft pick when Drew signs elsewhere, and Boston's desire for those valuable picks could make them pass on Drew anyway, Abraham notes.
  • "There is no sign yet that the Red Sox are interested" in Masahiro Tanaka.  As Abraham notes, Boston's young pitching depth and recent trend away from big-money free agent deals would seem to hint against a move, and signing Tanaka could impact a possible Lester extension.
  • Abraham cites Jesse Crain as "an interesting name" for the Sox considering Crain's history with pitching coach Juan Nieves and new catcher A.J. Pierzynski.  The Cubs, Astros and Rockies are a few of the teams known to have an interest in Crain this offseason.  Abraham opines that the Red Sox need bullpen depth since he doesn't think Koji Uehara will be as durable following Uehara's career-high 73 games and 74 1/3 innings pitched in 2013.


34 Responses to Red Sox Notes: Lester, Drew, Tanaka Leave a Reply

  1. LazerTown 2 years ago

    Lester is a hard player to walk away from though. It’s not like Hughes who was easy, Lester isn’t someone you can just replace with a prospect, like Lackey, Peavy, or Dempster.

  2. Randy Jay Pena 2 years ago

    I would just leave Tanaka alone and go with Lester, Lester has been lights throughout his career and an extension of 5 or 6 years between 80-120 mil seems fair. As for Drew would love to see the guy back but if Drew and Boras thinks he can get a 4 year deal then they are high on something, all they are doing is paying drew for his defense, he’s an ok hitter but he’s not worth overpaying for him.

    • Croagnut 2 years ago

      Agree, the more I’m hearing about Tanaka the more I’d be concerned about a long-term contract. 160 pitches in a game, then 15 more the next day to close out that game. That’s downright abuse.

      • Eric Droegemeier 2 years ago

        Not to mention the people who are saying “he’s the greatest Japanese pitcher in history” or close to it usually only have his 24-0 record as justification.

      • lefty177 2 years ago

        Also it doesn’t help that I saw on MLB Network that he has thrown the 3rd most innings from his ages 19-24 since 1950

      • tbslim 2 years ago

        The Rays won’t go after Tanaka so I have the ability to sit back and kibitz. My hope is that the Yankees act on the desperation they must be feeling over the pitiable state of their starting rotation and drastically overpay for Tanaka. Give CC/ARod type money for a long term to an unproven prospect. With the complete lack of long term success Japanese starting pitchers have had in MLB, I think he’s the perfect solution to their problems. Otherwise, I hope he goes West Coast, preferably NL. Diamondbacks would be my choice.

      • Gomez Toth 2 years ago

        Kei Igawa, anyone?

  3. pft2 2 years ago

    Lester has had 2 good months in 2 years. From Sep 2011-July 2013 he had a 4.5+ ERA. He pitched well the final 2 months when there was talk of not picking up his option and after they picked up Peavy. According to Gammons, Lester was not very happy in Boston so resigning Lester may not be up to the Red Sox if Lester chooses to go for the money.

    With Buchholz uncertain because of arm issues and Lackey, Dempster and Peavy all free agents in 1-2 years the Red Sox may need to look at Tanaka. They have prospects, but pitching prospects are uncertain as their own consultant Bill James has written in the Hardball Times 2014 Annual.

    As for Drew, I suspect there are team waiting on the pitching free agents to decide how much money they have left to spend. Boras is very comfortable waiting until January or even March to find a home for his players. He could even wait for June 15 when teams would not have to lose a pick. Once the Yankees get a look at Jeter fielding GB in February they will be all over him.

    • Croagnut 2 years ago

      Thats pretty selective time frame to judge a pitcher by. Or you could say he’s pitched at least 190 innings for 6 straight years and has been very good except a rough period during the time period you described.

      • pft2 2 years ago

        In any projection you give more weight to the most recent years.
        That rough period included 62 of his last 72 regular season starts. Granted, the last 10 starts were great, but whenever a pitcher demonstrates Jekyll & Hyde characteristics, its best to be wary

        • Croagnut 2 years ago

          It also includes a terrible ’12, a very down year for all Red Sox. He was part of the beer n chicken crew that year. I’d put less stock in that year.

          But to put it more simply to chose your range to include specific months not years. It shows that you were looking for stats to reinforce a pre-conceived opinion, not true representation. Talk 2 yr, 3 yr or 4 yr. Not sept of one year to july of another.

          I’ll show you how easy it is: Since Oct ’12 to end of playoffs this year, omitting a bad stretch of 6 consecutive starts in June and July ’13 (27 runs in 33.1 inns) Lester has had an ERA of 2.77. Completely factual, but not a true picture. But it is more recent than yours so it should carry more weight.

  4. Cormis 2 years ago

    As a die hard Boston Red Sox fan my personal appreciation for Jon Lester is kind of clouding my probable statistics point of view. I would hate to see him let go, he’s been a horse in the post season, good in the community, and an ace for a large portion of his career. That being said, I would see how things play out for the majority of 2014 first. If he seems to be having a good season, physically and his stuff as well, then I would consider offering him that long term extension 5 years 100 mil or so and take the gamble. But if he just has a mediocre year, or injuries take their toll, id play out the market and see how things shake out. Maybe throw some incentives in the contract to push it upwards. Something like 5 years guaranteed, 6th year option for innings pitched, days on the dl etc. make the guaranteed money somewhere around 90 million, and if those incentives are reached then it can top out around 100-110. Just my opinion lol

    • Croagnut 2 years ago

      I think you’re aiming a bit low. The 5/100 is based on it being offered before the season, not after the majority. If he pitches well and you go to him in July, he would probably say ‘Not interested, I’ll let it play out’. If he pitches well, he’s looking at bare minimum 120m next year.

  5. start_wearing_purple 2 years ago

    Alright, I’m going to be the Red Sox fan who says it: Pay Lester.

    1) Ok, not an ace, but he can come through in big games and is a solid front of the rotation pitcher.
    2) He’s a lefty power pitcher.
    3) There was some strange stat last year that he was almost un-hittable when starting after a Sox loss.
    4) Postseason proven.
    5) The Sox can afford him without taking a major risk.

    • Eric Droegemeier 2 years ago

      Lester is absolutely an ace. I would have put him in my top 10 finalists for the AL Cy Young award in 2013.

      • Dynasty22 2 years ago

        What would your list have been?

        • Eric Droegemeier 2 years ago

          Off the top of my head:
          1. Scherzer 2. Darvish 3. Felix Hernandez 4. Anibal Sanchez 5. Chris Sale 6. Justin Verlander 7. Hisashi Iwakuma 8. David Price 9. Jon Lester 10. James Shields maybe?

          • Croagnut 2 years ago

            Bartolo doesn’t appreciate the slight.

          • Eric Droegemeier 2 years ago

            Bartolo is also a juicer

            And Lester has a better WAR, xFIP, and SIERA

          • Croagnut 2 years ago

            WAR (24th), ERA (22nd), WHIP (22nd), he doesn’t break the top 20 in any of those categories. Sorry, I’m Sox fan and I think you bit off more than you can chew. (6th in wins with best offense in baseball, 14th in Ks)

            Colon 5.0 WAR, Lester 3.0 WAR (baseball ref)
            xFIP and SIERA are very selective and almost identical stats that account Ks, SOs and HRs. They don’t tell the whole picture.

          • Eric Droegemeier 2 years ago

            Well, I was using fWAR because I think it measures it a bit better, but if you want to use bWAR that’s fine. in fWAR Lester ranks 12th

            but ERA and WHIP really aren’t that great. I don’t like ERA because it isn’t isolated enough to see the pitchers true talent. It takes the defense of the team into account, something the pitcher has no control over. WHIP is a bit better than ERA, but I still prefer FIP, xFIP, SIERA, tERA, fWAR, and others

  6. Eric Droegemeier 2 years ago

    We weren’t able to get Ellsbury resigned, so if we could resign Lester to go along with Pedroia, 2 out of 3 seems good to me. I would rather extend Lester for 5/100 than Ortiz for 2/30, especially since I see John Lackey as serious trade bait, but only this year. Thanks to his TJ surgery, his 2015 option vested and it only costs $500,000 which would be a bargain.

  7. James F 2 years ago

    Lester already said that he would sign for a discount if it means staying with the Red Sox. So the Sox could do what they did with Pedroia but for less years. As long as Farrell is around, I think he’ll do fine.

  8. Croagnut 2 years ago

    Jesse Crain? In the immortal words of Lou Gorman “Where would we play him?”

  9. Before Red Sox even consider tanaka they should ask themselves one question. Daisuke who?

    • James F 2 years ago

      Tanaka isn’t a Dice-K but I don’t want the Sox to sign him if it means a bidding war. Next year would’ve been better.

    • MaineBaseball 2 years ago

      Tanaka and Daisuke aren’t the same pitcher. I think the Yankees sign Tanaka.

  10. I hope Lester takes a bit of a discount. Just because he can get 20 million a year on the open market doesn’t necessarily mean he’s worth it. I’d offer him a similar deal to Lackey’s or I’d let him go.

  11. Tko11 2 years ago

    The Sox could easily trade Lackey if they really do want Tanaka. He gets paid $15million in 2014 but only 500k in 2015. His value is probably as high as it will get and they can then use the second year as a big selling point. The rotation could use a little bit of youth.

  12. dmm1047 2 years ago

    Seems every year, a couple of Boras’ clients hit the motherload and someone is left sucking wind because of Boras’ antics. Might this year’s “gasper” be Drew?

  13. RIYankeeGuy 2 years ago

    Using Hamels 31-34 seasons falls short as players usually give good value to the team towards the front of contracts and get good value themselves towards the end.

    Lester is like Joe Flacco. He’ll be paid for his exceptional playoff results and not his modest for an ace, up and down regular seasons.

  14. dmm1047 2 years ago

    While Lester has a nice W-L%, I’m not thrilled with his ERA and just don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling giving him $20 Mil a year for 5 or so years.

  15. James F 2 years ago

    I never said Lester leaving more money on the table than Pedroia, only years.
    The Yankee’s are 28 million over the luxury tax. What are the chances they’ll be under it next year after all of these large signings? And a lot has changed since the Bobby V year. I highly doubt he’s unhappy with Boston now. He also said it wasn’t hard to leave millions on the table and quote, ‘Boston’s my home… It’s all I want to know.’ If that’s not an indication that he’ll sign for a discount, I don’t know what is.

  16. Rick M 2 years ago

    I love it when the geeks talk metrics instead of comic books.

    Lester performs like 2013 the market will dictate close to 20M a season.

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