The Boston Red Sox explored a contract extension with Jon Lester before the season started. At the time their left-handed ace even indicated a willingness to take a discount to stay in Boston.
No deal happened, and it appears that the passage of time has not benefited the Red Sox. Lester is no longer interested in talking to the team about a long term deal during the season, preferring to wait until the winter. Jon Heyman of CBS reports the following on Friday morning:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 4, 2014
Through 17 starts this season Lester is 9-7 with a 2.92 ERA and a 9.1 K/9 mark. What might be even more impressive is his 2.84 FIP, showing that he has been just as good as those numbers indicate. The Red Sox find themselves playing a risky game at this point with Lester set to hit free agency. If Lester keeps pitching this way he might be less and less inclined to give any discount whatsoever.
The Red Sox will have the option to issue a qualifying offer to protect themselves a bit in the off-season, but if they lose Lester they will wish they could have a do-over in all likelihood. Maybe Lester’s inclination to remain in Boston will prevail when the winter rolls around, but as things stand now the Red Sox have put themselves in a tough spot by waiting to act on an extension.