Contract talks between the Boston Red Sox and Jon Lester haven't played out as dramatically as those between the Detroit Tigers and Max Scherzer, but just the same both sides have been unable to reach an agreement with opening day less than 48 hours away. As a result, general manager Ben Cherington announced that extension talks will be put on hold for the foreseeable future, but it does sound like both sides hope to continue talks down the road.
“We’re going to hit the pause button,” Cherington said. “We’ve had a lot of good dialogue and shared information. Jon and (agent) Seth (Levinson) have made a lot of good arguments for their position. We understand their position. We feel like we have good arguments for our position. Our desire remains to keep him here past 2014. We weren’t able to find something that worked for everyone during this spring training. In the interest of allowing him to get ready for Monday and let the team get ready for Monday, we’ll hit the pause button and hope that we can pick up the conversation again at some point.”
It's not clear when or if either side would be comfortable entering negotiations again during the season, but it would appear they're far enough apart that pushing forward right now didn't make sense. That said, sometimes all it takes is one idea and one phone call to bring everybody back to the table, so talks could resume quickly — as they did last season with Dustin Pedroia — or they may just wait to see how the season plays out.
Said Lester, “Anytime you go into a position like this, you have to prepare yourself for something to not happen. Like I’ve said from the beginning, for both sides, it was very encouraging, the stuff that was going on. But with where we’re at right now, it isn’t a good time to continue. We’ll just put it on pause for now and see where we go from there.”
Pressing pause is a risky proposition for both sides. A lot can happen over 30 starts, both good and bad, that could influence future value. But with Detroit and Scherzer, who turns 30 in July, unable to work out a deal, Lester, who turned 30 in January, may not have felt comfortable moving forward without having a deal to use as a comparison.
Speculation aside, it does seem as though the relationship between Lester and Cherington remains positive, or at least professional, which bodes well when that next conversation takes place.
“This has been, I feel like, very positive,” Lester said. “I’m not going to go out and badmouth the Red Sox organization, and I would hope they don’t badmouth my side and my representation for the way we’ve handled it. Both sides have been very, very positive. For whatever reason, just in the time frame now, we just didn’t get a deal done.”
Lester is scheduled to start the Red Sox opener on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. He was 15-8 during the 2013 regular season, posting a 3.75, and even better in the postseason, going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA.
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