Jon Lester is a member of the Oakland Athletics. Therefore, there’s not much the pitcher or the Boston Red Sox can say or do until the offseason regarding a potential reunion.
That being said, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Red Sox aggressively pursue their former ace after the season, as Lester has made it clear that he’d be open to re-signing with Boston in free agency.
“You can only hope at this point what they say is true, and that they want to be competitive and they want to make an offer and they want me back,” Lester said Friday on WAAF’s “The Hill-Man Morning Show.”
Lester, a free agent-to-be, said several times while with the Red Sox this season that he wanted to stay in Boston beyond 2014. The sides were unable to agree to a contract extension, however, and the Red Sox ultimately traded Lester, along with outfielder Jonny Gomes, to the Athletics in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Lester said Friday he wasn’t too surprised by the trade because he understood the reality of the situation. The sides never reached an agreement, the Red Sox were in last place and the club wanted to improve its offense. Trading Lester, while difficult, was a business move.
“I understood where the starting point was. It wasn’t like they offered that and things stopped. The offer was closer to end of spring training so we had a little bit of time to negotiate, we used that time to the best of our ability and just couldn’t come up with a deal from there,” Lester said Friday regarding an initial contract offer reportedly worth $70 million over four years. “No, there’s no animosity. There’s no hatred or anything like that. Those guys didn’t get to own the Boston Red Sox by being stupid and just starting at a point where you kind of laugh at them as far as too high or too low. They know what they’re doing and that’s how they wanted to start negotiations. But there are no hard feelings behind that.”
Lester, who will be one of the top starting pitchers available on the open market this winter, figures to earn a big payday, whether it be in Boston or elsewhere. Lester recently told the Boston Herald he’s not focused on money, though, and the 30-year-old again explained his stance Friday.
“The question behind it was, ‘Hey, are you going to be basically wooed by the highest bidder?’ My point behind that is that I don’t need to go to the highest bidder if that isn’t going to make me happy,” Lester said. “I’m not going to just take the highest bid, the money, the most years just because it’s in front of you. To me, that’s not how I make decisions.
“I make decisions based on me and my family and is this place — whether it’s Boston or one of the other 29 teams — is this place going to be good for me and my family? If that’s the case, you leave money on the table for that decision. That being said, it may be the highest bidder you end up going to. But for me, you make the informed decision of, ‘Hey, is this place going to make me happy? Is this the right situation for me?’ And then you just go from there. If it’s the most years and the most money, then that’s what it is.”
Last month’s trade — which occurred just hours before the July 31 Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline — means Lester and the Red Sox can’t work out a deal this season. But there’s nothing stopping the sides from coming together this offseason in the hopes of working something out.
“We love Jon Lester, I’ll say that,” Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino said Friday on WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan.” “We wish him good luck. When he’s a free agent, we’ll be free to talk about it.”
For the record, Lester’s cable apparently is still hooked up in Boston. And he’s renting a place out in Oakland. Just saying.