Red Sox, Ortiz Nearing Extension; Talks With Lester Intensify

6:02pm: A "significant gap" still remains between the Sox and Lester, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

2:37pm: Lester says that he and the Red Sox have made progress on an extension but are "not in the red zone," tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald adds that Lester is willing to continue negotiating into the season if the two sides can reach the "five-yard line" prior to Opening Day (Twitter link). WEEI.com's Rob Bradford spoke with a team source who feels that both Lester and Ortiz will have new contracts prior to Opening Day, though nothing is imminent with Lester.

12:31pm: The Red Sox are nearing a one-year contract extension believed to be in the neighborhood of $15MM with David Ortiz, according to Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England, and talks with lefty Jon Lester have intensified as well. Ortiz's contract could be completed before the end of this weekend, according to McAdam's source.

Though he's entering his age-38 season, Ortiz is fresh off yet another outstanding season at the plate in which he batted .300/.395/.564 with 30 homers in 600 plate appearances. Big Papi has been vocal about wanting to work out a one-year extension to remain with the club and has not shied away from telling reporters that he feels he's earned another significant payday as "The Man" in Boston's lineup at an age where many have been reduced to complementary roles. It's hard to argue that Ortiz's production isn't worthy of that salary, as he's been at least 34 percent better than a league-average hitter in each season from 2010-13, according to OPS+ and wRC+.

McAdam writes that the average annual value of an eventual Lester extension will be in the $20MM range, though the two sides have yet to agree to the number of years. After a disappointing 2012 season, the 30-year-old Lester enjoyed a nice rebound campaign when he turned in a 3.75 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 213 1/3 innings. He's said on multiple occasions this offseason that he would take less money to stay in Boston, at one point stating: "I want to be here 'til they rip this jersey off my back." He's currently slated to join James Shields, Max Scherzer and Justin Masterson atop next year's class of free agent pitchers, but that's looking less and less likely as Opening Day draws near.


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28 Comments on "Red Sox, Ortiz Nearing Extension; Talks With Lester Intensify"


1 year 4 months ago

The right thing to do. I wasn’t a fan of Papi’s behavior throughout this, but 15 million isn’t going to hurt the Red Sox very much and Papi is one of the most beloved players in their franchise’s history.

Bob Bunker
1 year 4 months ago

I agree they should have extended him, though I though they should wait to mid season to make sure he is still healthy and productive. However, at the same time having him locked in at DH for two years + the possibility he pulls the same thing next winter does hurt them in some ways.

1. Lack of positional flexibility. Him as DH takes one of the 9 lineup spots every day, one of the 13-15 positional players on the roster, and prevents the team from resting everyday players with injury concerns at DH.

2. 30 million over two years for a 38 year old is a recipe for disaster in today’s game where players can rapidly fall of the cliff due to age. If Ortiz suffers an injury or decline he could easily produce 2 WAR year or less.

3. The team does not have a long term plan at 1B or DH. 15 million in 2015 could have been pocketed, used on a FA, or used for taking on income for a guy that could be a long term solution.

4. Any replacement at 1B or DH will now have to wait to after 2015 limiting their choices in FA/trades.

Metsfan93
1 year 4 months ago

A 1B replacement would have to wait until after 2015 anyway because of Mike Napoli’s presence. They have solid options on Buchholz’ services, I believe, they have Vic for another year at a good price, Bogaerts, a young catching tandem, Pedroia on an extremely friendly deal, the cheap option on Lackey, appear to be extending Lester, and have good bullpen options and a great farm system, with Webster, De La Rosa, Cecchini, Betts, Bradley, Barnes, etc. down there. This is a franchise excellently positions for the near-term and long-term, a franchise that has been shying away from long-term deals, and two year for Ortiz also lines up nicely with Chris Davis becoming a free-agent, if they’re keen on a long-term 1B solution for 2015 & beyond.

What every day players might necessitate significant DH time? Napoli will play 1B and if he goes down they’ve got bigger issues. He was already under contract for this year, so Pierzynski isn’t relevant. Swihart/Vazquez? WMB/Bogaerts/Pedroia? Victorino? Maybe Gomes, but he could be gone after 2014. Bradley Jr. should play CF next year if not this year. The position players here aren’t old and breaking down. Boston has barely any money tied up long-term, is a big market club, can afford 15 MM wasted without breaking the bank, and is basically just giving the franchise’ best player of the new millennium a one year, market value extension coming off his best season in awhile, capped off by one of the most dominant offensive World Series performances of recent memory. I see no issues here.

If he gets injured and it’s a sunk cost, it’s at most a year+ that’s lost, and I highly doubt he’s completely ineffective. Even so, for a big-market club getting significant contributions from players on under-market deals, getting 4 WAR from Ortiz for 30 MM is not a death-knell. In fact, that’s barely even an overpay.

1 year 4 months ago

Agreed. The Sox aren’t going to get more production out of the DH slot with a player other than Ortiz assuming he’s healthy and they don’t have any players under contract who would need to play there. They have tons of money coming off the books and no real pressing needs to spend it on.

Bob Bunker
1 year 4 months ago

All great points and I don’t disagree with you on them but I still think any team (even a big market team with payroll flexibility) should be wary of committing 15 million to a 39 year old.

Also, I meant the signing blocks 1B additions by eliminating the possibility of Napoli being moved to DH. For example, say the Rangers, Reds, or Jays wanted to offer Fielder, Votto, or EE. While highly unlikely, it would be nice for the team to have the possibility of adding that type of player (Maybe not Fielder) in 2015. However, in the end I think perhaps with Ortiz the certainty is better than flexibility.

Lastly, while the team has young guys I think Pedroia, Nap, Will, Victorino, and Nava and Sizemore if he was around could benefit from having DH as a rotational thing where they each could get some rest if one of them was hurting. Still once again Ortiz performance if he sustains it is worth more than ac couple days off a month from fielding for each guy.

johnsilver
1 year 4 months ago

Boston isn’t taking on any of those guys. They moved Gonzalez, under contract at 100m less than Votto and ends in 2018. They certainly wouldn’t take on one worse in Votto being paid until at least 2023. Like you said on Fielder, even though his deal is slightly shorter, it’s even worse.

The next 1b won’t be like those 2, maybe an AGone type, if a player of that caliber can be had on that type of deal (doubtful), but hopefully they will be able to plug in another veteran yet again if not all of a sudden find someone from withing the system.. Shaw breakout, or WMB/Cecchini.

diehardmets
1 year 4 months ago

[Extensions Intensify]

UltimateYankeeFan
1 year 4 months ago

Lester’s extension when it happens I would think would have to be for 5 years guaranteed at $20MM to $22MM per with possibly a 6th year vesting option.

Bob Bunker
1 year 4 months ago

I think if Bailey got 6 105 that is what around Lester should get 5 years 91 (2014 14 million salary to equal 6 105)

Bailey is a pretty similar pitcher last three years except he has pitched less innings but Bailey’s contract covers 28-33 age years while Lester’s would be 30-35 age years.

Now since Lester is older with slightly more of a track record maybe the Sox try to tack on 4 years 92 million rather than 5 91.

Also, have to remember Lester said he was willing to take a discount.

Metsfan93
1 year 4 months ago

I would think if they’re willing to do 4/92 (23 MM AAV), another year at 18 MM, for 5/110 (UltimateYankeeFan’s predicted 5 @ 22). There’s also the matter of a vesting option..

UltimateYankeeFan
1 year 4 months ago

Just my opinion but the 5 years $20 to $22MM per is in my opinion a team discount. Others may disagree. As for comparing him to Bailey, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. Bailey pitches for a mid market team the Reds in the NL Central Div. Lester pitches for the much larger and richer team Red Sox in the far more competitive AL East.

Mario Saavedra
1 year 4 months ago

20 MM a year for a 3.75 ERA rebound pitcher? what the heck has happened?

Bronx Bombers
1 year 4 months ago

I just got done arguing in the Cincinnati Reds thread about how Bailey got too much in his extension but Red’s fans of course think that’s market value. It’s only market value because that’s what the Reds have now set it at. If Bailey can get it, Lester should get more I guess. Both of them aren’t worth more then 15million AAV.

Metsfan93
1 year 4 months ago

I’d argue Lester’s track record at minimum, while accounting for inflation, puts him around Jered Weaver/John Lackey/AJ Burnett 16-17 MM. At minimum. I think he’s better than a 3.75-ERA pitcher, and even if he’s not, he’s durable, has shown ace ability in the past, and is probably a 3.5-4 win pitcher which is probably 20 MM material these days as scary as inflation is..

Bronx Bombers
1 year 4 months ago

None of those guys you listed are worth 20 million, Burnett signed a one year deal for less then that, and usually one year deals have a higher AAV then multi-year deals. Masterson is in the same league as these guys and the Indians won’t sign him for $17per.

Metsfan93
1 year 4 months ago

I was talking about the 5/85, 5/82.5 deals they signed. All three of those contracts are outdated by several years. Hamels signed for 24, Lee for 24, Verlander for 28, Kershaw for 32.5, Felix for 27.5, Sabathia for 23 then 24.4, Tanaka for 22+, Greinke for 24.5, etc. 20 MM simply isn’t elite pitcher money anymore, and Lester is, at least in the short-term, a 20 MM a year pitcher, but just barely.

johnsilver
1 year 4 months ago

Lester pitches and pitched in the AL East. He’s facing (and has faced) AL East opponents more often than has some guys who have gotten extensions of late and might be compared to, or even FA. Bailey is one. NL for main thing, even a hitter’s park, it’s not the AL East. Matt Cain is another. 8/139m. he was younger, pitcher’s park, but numbers were held down by the home stadium also.

Lackey? Like him or not, he was in a pitcher’s park, or nighttime it is, same with Weaver of course and let’s not forget that Weaver also put the squeeze on for a home town discount a few years back to remain at home.

Anibal Sanchez last year got 5/90m. He finally managed to put together 3 healthy seasons of near 200IP. lester has 6 of them and 5 are as good as just about anyone else in the AL East has managed. That’s why IMO he’ll end up with 4-5y and over 20m AAV. I’d LOVE to see it less, just don’t see it.

Tko11
1 year 4 months ago

Sometimes its not all about the numbers. Lester posting a 3.75 era and being a positive influence on the clubhouse is worth $20 million.

pft2
1 year 4 months ago

He was one of the chicken and beer crew in 2011 along with Lackey, Beckett and himself. You could see them sipping something from cups in the dugout during games that had them giggling a lot too..

Tko11
1 year 4 months ago

You are trying to tell me that he is not respected in the clubhouse?

BoSoXaddict
1 year 4 months ago

Well, he’s 3-0 with a .44 ERA in 3 World Series games. 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in the whole postseason. That might have something to do with it..

pft2
1 year 4 months ago

3 WS games in 7 years surely has a lot to do with it giving him 100 million for the next 5 years.

Denny Doyle
1 year 4 months ago

1) Consistent
2) Innings Eater
3) Post Season experience
4) Lefty

Would get at least 130m on open market.

BoSoXaddict
1 year 4 months ago

Well, considering that winning championships is any team’s ultimate goal..I would say it DOES have a lot to do with giving him 100 million for the next 5 years.

pft2
1 year 4 months ago

And that’s after his hefty team friendly discount. LOL

Jim McGrath
1 year 4 months ago

I would say the same money as Pedroia.

BoSoXaddict
1 year 4 months ago

5/105 for Lester and 1/16 for Papi as a revolving mutual option please.

johnsilver
1 year 4 months ago

I liked Wake’s 1/4 better somehow, but yeah.. a team option that can be picked up at the end of the year would end this petty squabbling every year it seems wouldn’t it?

I worry about what would happen if/when Ortiz finally has a slip year, or is injured again for half a year, or just has to spend considerable time on the DL with such a large team option.