BOSTON — Red Sox manager John Farrell doesn’t want the ride to end.
Farrell, in many ways, has witnessed the major league evolution of Red Sox ace Jon Lester. As trade rumors continue to circulate regarding whether Lester will be traded before Thursday’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline, Farrell is holding out hope that the pair will continue to share a clubhouse beyond 2014.
“Someone asked me the question earlier about having experienced a lot of successes, a lot of challenges (with Lester), and my only response is that I hope there are many more to experience with him,” Farrell said before Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. “The reality of the game is what we’re living right now in certain individual cases. But I’m always optimistic and hopeful that he’ll remain in a Red Sox uniform.”
Farrell and Lester have enjoyed two World Series triumphs together. The first occurred in 2007, when Farrell served as the Red Sox’s pitching coach under former manager Terry Francona and Lester — returning from a bout with cancer — was a 23-year-old still cutting his teeth at the major league level. The second, of course, took place last October, when the Red Sox exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations.
“Last year was special in a number of ways, and I would echo some of the comments that I think it was the closest-knit team I’ve ever been associated with — as a player, coach or in this role,” Farrell said Tuesday.
It’s been a crazy ride, no doubt, but it’s now in jeopardy of ending, whether it be before Thursday’s trade deadline or in free agency after this season. The trade chatter is especially intriguing, though, because Lester represents the biggest fish reportedly available, and the 30-year-old said Friday that he’d be willing to re-sign with Boston over the offseason even if the Red Sox deal him.
A recent report from The Boston Globe indicated that the Red Sox’s reported willingness to trade Lester stems from the club having been informed of what kind of contract the pitcher is seeking. Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, has since denied the report, however, and the burning questions surrounding the three-time All-Star’s future are as hot as ever.
“The discussions we had with the Red Sox were confidential and will remain that way,” Levinson wrote Tuesday in an email to ESPN.com. “There is no truth to the report, and I am not going to guess why it was written or the basis for that report.”
It’s hard to envision the Red Sox trading their best pitcher — or any other core player, for that matter — just months after winning a World Series, yet that’s the potential reality in Boston with the club sitting 10 games under .500 (48-58) on July 29. It’s also difficult to make any judgments without knowing who the Red Sox could receive in exchange for Lester or whether an offseason reunion is in the cards, but Boston clearly is nearing a critical juncture as it pertains to the future of the franchise.
“Our goal is to be as good as we can as quick as we can,” Farrell said Tuesday when asked how trading Lester helps the Red Sox accomplish their goal of being better in 2015. “And that’s not to say that we close the book on 2014. To specifically answer that question, it remains to be seen who gets traded and for what.”
A trade would be tough to swallow for many Red Sox fans. It also would mark a difficult time for Farrell, who has watched Lester grow up, so to speak.