Free-agent-to-be Jon Lester would be willing to re-sign with the Red Sox in the offseason even if they traded him in the coming week, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston writes. “I mean, this is what I know, this is what I love,” says Lester. “Like I’ve said many times, this is where I want to be. If they trade me, I completely understand.”
Edes notes that 17 or more teams watched Lester and the Red Sox face off against David Price and the Rays Friday night. Both Lester and Price are potential trade candidates.
Lester and the Red Sox had discussed an extension in spring training, but the Red Sox’ offer of four years and $70MM seemed to be quite low. Since then, Lester said that he does not want to discuss an extension during the season (although reports haven’t been entirely consistent regarding Lester’s position on in-season negotiations). The Red Sox, meanwhile, have characterized the $70MM offer as merely an “opening offer” to begin negotiations.
If the Red Sox were to trade Lester and then seek to re-sign him, his resulting ineligibility for the qualifying offer would change the dynamics of potential negotiations with other clubs. If the Red Sox keep Lester this season, they can then extend him a qualifying offer, which he would, obviously, be extremely likely to refuse. While the qualifying offer would be highly unlikely to derail the market for Lester in the way it did for Kendrys Morales, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and Ervin Santana last offseason, it would be a factor for other teams negotiating with him, since they would have to consider the lost value of a draft pick.