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.