The Red Sox are still holding out hope of keeping staff ace Jon Lester from reaching the open market, club president and CEO Larry Lucchino indicated in an appearance this morning on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan (audio link). Lester, 30, owns a 3.45 ERA through 73 innings as he plays out the last year of an earlier extension.
Lucchino said that he “certainly expect[s]” to engage in further extension talks with Lester’s representatives at ACES before the big lefty becomes a free agent. Lucchino also downplayed the importance of the club’s reported offer to Lester of $70MM over four years, suggesting that it was a starting point rather than a maximum figure. “I think it’s a mistake to discuss the status of ongoing negotiations as it is a mistake to get fixated on an opening offer,” he said.
A late-breaking extension would hardly be unprecedented. The Phillies retained fellow top southpaw Cole Hamels just before the trade deadline two years ago, for instance. And last year, the Giants pulled off new deals with a pair of veterans who had all but reached the open market, extending Hunter Pence at the tail end of the regular season and locking up starter Tim Lincecum just before he would have officially become a free agent.