BOSTON — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington could have a bug in his ear this offseason. That bug is named Pedro Martinez.
Martinez, who was enshrined into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Thursday, left no doubt where he stands regarding Jon Lester’s departure, telling reporters at Fenway Park that he hopes Boston reunites with its former ace in free agency this winter.
“I hope he comes back because he’s a perfect guy to actually have in the clubhouse influence kids,” Martinez said. “I think (Lester) is a guy that I’m against seeing him leave. Openly, I’m going to say I’m not happy that Lester is not here anymore. I would like him to come back. And we had that talk in the outfield and during bullpen sessions (and) during games (when he was with the Red Sox).”
Martinez, of course, spent seven masterful seasons pitching in Boston. He’s now a special assistant to Cherington, so he’s certainly around the organization enough to have his voice heard. Whether or not the Red Sox will heed Martinez’s advice and bring back Lester remains to be seen, but the three-time Cy Young Award winner was firm in his desire for a reunion.
The Red Sox traded four-fifths of their Opening Day starting rotation, including Lester, before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Lester was dealt to the Oakland A’s, John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals, Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants and Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs. Clay Buchholz, who has struggled this season, is the most experienced starter remaining on a Red Sox staff that features — in some combination — the likes of Joe Kelly, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo.
Cherington recently said he expects the Red Sox to be aggressive in the starting pitching market this offseason, whether it be through trades or in free agency. Martinez believes Lester, who spent parts of nine seasons in Boston, represents everything the Red Sox should be looking for in an established veteran.
“I hate to see that Lester is gone, because he’s a workhorse, he’s a good example in the clubhouse, he’s a role model in society, he’s a good role model (and) family member. He’s everything you need for a young group of guys that are developing,” Martinez said. “I think Lester is one of the guys that we have to really hope that he comes back because he’s probably the right guy to have in front of all those young kids that we have.”
Lester hasn’t ruled out potentially re-signing with the Red Sox. He’ll definitely have a Boston legend pushing for his return.