The beginning of spring training has inspired no change of heart for Jon Lester, who reaffirmed his willingness to give the Red Sox a hometown discount in order to stay in Boston.
Lester on hometown discount: 'I'm not going to go back on what I said...I want to stay here. This is all I've known. I don't like change'— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) February 17, 2014
Lester on hometown discount: "I said what I said from the heart, and I mean it.... I don't say things I don't mean. I want to stay here."— John Tomase (@jtomase) February 17, 2014
They're encouraging words from Lester, Boston's longest-tenured starting pitcher, but the situation remains as unchanged as his mind. The Red Sox would very much like to have their lefty return in 2015 and beyond, but there is little indication how close together or far apart the two sides might be when it comes to actual dollars and years.
On the one hand, Lester is a good starter. He's fresh off a dominant postseason performance, and has accrued 26 rWAR since joining the rotation full-time in 2008. On the other hand, his 2012 performance was a pretty big red flag, and while 2013 was a far more successful season, he was still not up to his old standards. He's on the wrong side of 30 now, and Boston's farm system is stacked to the point of obscenity when it comes to starting pitchers. Investing payroll in the rotation when there are other areas of need might not appeal to Ben Cherington and co.
We'll find out just how far Lester and the Red Sox are willing to go as this saga continues.