Jon LesterJon Lester and the Boston Red Sox are tabling contract negotiations until after the season, but that doesn’t mean the left-hander is leaving the team.

In fact, he claims it doesn’t mean much at all.

“Doesn’t mean anything,” Lester told reporters Thursday in Toronto, according to The Boston Globe. “There’s been plenty of guys who have taken less to come back. Mikey Lowell had more years and money with the Phillies and he came back. It’s not the end-all for everybody. I’ve expressed to them I want to be here.”

Red Sox owner John Henry told the Boston Herald in an email that contract discussions between the team and Lester were finished until the end of the season. Lester will become a free agent if no deal is reached.

“I’m not going to discuss Jon’s situation out of respect for both Jon and (general manager) Ben (Cherington) other than to say that both sides have put further discussion off until after the season,” Henry wrote in the email. “It’s clear that both Jon and our organization would like to see Jon back next year if possible.”

Lester added that Henry’s comments are in line with his camp’s thinking.

“I’m glad they’ve said it because it takes pressure off me from having to answer questions and now we can let it be for a while,” Lester said.

Lester’s personal desire to stay in Boston hasn’t changed, though.

“Like I said, I’ve expressed to them that I want to stay here,” Lester said. “Just because we wait until the offseason doesn’t mean I won’t be here.”

The 30-year-old lefty is 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA this season. Lester has played his entire nine-year career in Boston and has seen many teammates deal with contract negotiations. For this reason, he doesn’t want his situation to get in the way.

“I don’t want it to be a distraction,” Lester said, according to the Herald. “You know how things get, especially around here.”