|Source: Jon Lester to meet with at least 2 more teams next week||11.21.14 at 5:11 pm ET|
After Lester’s meeting with the Red Sox, a source said the Red Sox have made it clear that there will be a “willingness to negotiate.” Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, said in an email to WEEI.com that the Red Sox “extended great respect” to Lester.
|Devil in the details: Contract possibilities for Jon Lester and the Red Sox||11.19.14 at 2:52 pm ET|
The Red Sox have made no secret of their desire to make a push for Jon Lester, a notion that has gained further credence with the reports (the first one of which came from ESPNBoston.com) that the team has made an offer to the left-hander.
But, of course, it is one thing to make an offer, another to find common ground to satisfy Lester’s interest in a salary befitting his status as an elite pitcher and the Sox’ interests in accounting for the risks associated with a long-term deal for a pitcher in his 30s. In the absence of concrete details about what shape that offer has taken, here are a few potential models and/or features of an offer that the Sox may try to incorporate as they attempt to reacquire an elite pitcher while minimizing the risk on the back end of the deal:
Model 1: Cliff Lee (fewer years, more dollars)
In the 2012-13 offseason, the Red Sox proved aggressive in terms of the average annual value they put on the table while trying to limit the number of years they committed to players. In doing so, they got (for instance) Shane Victorino to pass on a four-year deal worth roughly $11 million a year from the Indians in favor of a three-year, $39 million deal to come to Boston.
In the winter following the 2010 season, left-hander Cliff Lee walked away from potential deals of six-plus years (with offers typically rumored to be for $23 million or so per year) in favor of a five-year, $120 million deal ($24 million per year) with the Phillies. It’s worth noting that there are similarities between Lester’s situation and Lee’s.
|Peter Gammons on D&C on Jon Lester: ‘I get the feeling the Cubs think he’s going to go back to Boston’||11.18.14 at 9:39 am ET|
Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons appeared on Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to talk about Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval as it relates to the Red Sox, as well as other Red Sox related matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Jon Lester is reportedly scheduled to visit with the Cubs on Tuesday, as they are one of the six reported teams interested in the left-hander. Gammons says even though the Cubs are meeting with Lester, they believe he will end up back with the Red Sox.
“I think there’s a chance, I really do,” said Gammons. “I think the one thing — obviously the Cubs are going to make every play — I get the feeling the Cubs think he’s going to go back to Boston. I think it’s very smart for Lester and his agents to hold for another week. I think there is a feeling it is going to go past Thanksgiving, maybe into the first week into December and the hope is that the Yankees look at that starting rotation and they think — I mean how do they know [Masahiro] Tanaka, [Michael] Pineda and [Ivan] Nova are going to be healthy next year and they start thinking about, ‘OK, we have great bullpen, but…’
“That is Red Sox ownership’s worst nightmare — the Yankees and Theo Epstein negotiating against them. But, after spring training when ACES told them [they would see what the market bears], they are finding out the market is going to bare more than they ever imagined.”
Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval is in Boston early this week, scheduled to meet with the Red Sox to discuss a possible contract. The 28-year-old is coming off a World Series win with the Giants.
“I believe David Ortiz took him out to dinner last night,” Gammons said. “I don’t think it was to a Vegan restaurant.”
Gammons added: “I think he’s an interest here because I think he realizes there’s some reluctance for the Giants about how many years do you give him. One of the dilemmas that National League teams face is that you have a guy that is a bat that may be a DH at 32 or 33-years-old, it’s very hard to give them the kind of contract you can give them in the American League. For instance, Victor Martinez may be the best hitter in baseball right now, but no National League team, the Mets, could go after him because he’s an American League player. Sandoval might be that. I think the Giants are more prepared for this.”
Sandoval’s numbers aren’t as impressive as some think, as the switch-hitter has hit .279 and .278 the last two years respectively, combining to hit 30 home runs. Gammons feels playing in San Fransisco has a lot to do with the numbers.
“I do think he’s a really good hitter. That ballpark really hurts him,” Gammons said. “I think you get him into Fenway and his natural stroke is left-center field. I think he’d be a very good hitter here, but I agree with you that I think he’s going to be very good and the Red Sox have such a need for a left-handed bat. I mean when Stephen Drew is No. 3 on your team in left-handed home runs against right-handed pitching, I think you’re in trouble. He’s really the only guy there. That really tells you a lot about the market and that hitters have become so rare.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.
|Jon Lester finishes 4th in Cy Young voting; Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw win||11.12.14 at 9:07 pm ET|
Left-hander Jon Lester, who posted a 16-11 record and career-best 2.46 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings in a career-high 219 2/3 innings, finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting for his standout work on the mound with the Red Sox and A’s. The fourth-place finish in Cy Young voting is the second of Lester’s career, a finish that matches his recognition for going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA, 9.7 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine innings in 2010.
Lester — whom the Sox traded to the A’s (along with Jonny Gomes) on July 31 in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes — was named on 25 of 30 ballots, receiving three third-place votes, 15 fourth-place votes and seven fifth-place votes. His 46 points were behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (169 points), Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (159 points) and White Sox lefty Chris Sale (78 points).
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw won his second straight Cy Young award and his third in four seasons, claiming all 30 first-place votes. He’s the 14th pitcher in NL history to win a Cy by unanimous acclaim.
|Making (dollars and) sense of Cole Hamels’ contract as an alternative to Jon Lester||11.11.14 at 5:08 pm ET|
Don’t want to pay the going rates for an elite free-agent pitcher? The Phillies’ phone lines are apparently open.
Philadelphia is willing to discuss left-hander Cole Hamels, a pitcher who is coming off a dominant season at age 30. Though he went just 9-9 for the Phillies, he posted a career-best 2.46 ERA in 30 starts with 8.7 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings in 204 1/3 innings this year. Those numbers align closely with what Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46, 9.0 Ks/9, 2.0 BBs/9) did in 2014.
The similarities go beyond that. The two pitchers were born just 11 days apart, Hamels at the end of December 1983, Lester in early January 1984. Hamels has a career 108-83 record with a 3.27 ERA and 125 ERA+. Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA and 121 ERA+. Both have dominant World Series performances and a history of thriving in some of the most highly scrutinized environments in baseball. It goes without saying that Lester will use Hamels’ six-year, $144 million contract (signed just months before he reached free agency in 2012) as a very relevant data point for his own contractual discussions.
And so, the notion has been articulated many times: The Red Sox can re-sign Lester for full market value, but if they don’t want to commit, say, five or six years to a pitcher who turns 31 in January, they could trade for Hamels, who is owed $90 million (four $22.5 million salaries) in the next four years.
But the contractual contrast between the two pitchers might have been overstated, in part based on some misunderstanding about Hamels’ contract — particularly given the possibility that, if the Sox were to trade for Hamels, because he reportedly has the right to veto a deal to Boston and can thus extract negotiated concessions from a team that deals for him, they might have to pick up his $20 million for his age 35 season in 2019.
Here’s the shakedown:
|Jonny Gomes on why Jon Lester is top free agent pitcher available||11.07.14 at 7:04 am ET|
Former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, who is a free agent after having concluded the season with the A’s following a July 31 trade that sent him and Jon Lester to Oakland in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, acknowledged that he and other Red Sox players were puzzled when word leaked of Boston’s unexpectedly modest four-year, $70 million offer to Lester early in the season. Gomes was whether he was surprised by the nature of the offer to the Sox’ Opening Day pitcher.
“Yeah,” he said. “[But] I’m a baseball player. There’s so much we don’t know. That’s why there’s so many front-office people. There’s language this and language that.
“At the end of the day, Jon Lester is going to pick where he wants to play. He’s going to land somewhere where he wants to be and they want him. The market changes every single year. I don’t know what’s fair and what’s not fair. … I can’t determine the market, the years, the wear and tear of a guy’s age, the wear and tear of a guy’s innings, but if it was Game 7 of the World Series and I had to pick just one guy, Madison Bumgarner just did it but I tell you what, Jon Lester has done it quite a few times and I’d still pick that guy.”
Gomes explained why he views Lester as the top player on the free-agent market this winter.
“I think he is [the top free agent],” said Gomes. “It was a crazy metaphor that I was explaining to a younger kid the other day. It’s like horse racing or dog racing or even dog shows. What do you go after first? You go after the pedigree. You go after they’ve won before. They’ve won the Triple Crown. Is there this young guy coming up with a lightning arm and all that? Yeah, absolutely. But when you go after No. 1, you go after pedigree. You see the Giants getting pretty decorated now. … Everyone is going to be looking to that guy with the pedigree to provide the answers, and everyone is going to try to get the ball in that guy’s hand. Read the rest of this entry »
|Report: Yankees will not pursue Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Pablo Sandoval||11.04.14 at 10:59 am ET|
It’s no secret the Red Sox will be very active this offseason in their pursuit of free agents.
Usually the Yankees are as well, but according to a N.Y. Daily News report, the Yankees have no plans to target four free agents the Red Sox could be potentially going after — Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields and Pablo Sandoval.
The report says the Yankees are interested in bringing back two of their own free agents in pitcher Brandon McCarthy and third baseman Chase Headley. Since they were traded to the Yankees during the season both players cannot be offered a qualifying offer. McCarthy went 7-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts after being traded to the Yankees from the Diamondbacks, while Headley hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 58 games after coming over from San Diego.
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