The Red Sox and Jon Lester might be considering broaching the topic of a contract extension, but it's going to wait until this winter. Not because Lester is disinterested, or the Sox are refusing, but, according to general manager Ben Cherington by way of WEEI's Conor Ryan, because the focus right now for the left-hander is on the team in the present, not his future.
When asked if contract negotiations had begun with Lester, Cherington had a lengthy response:
No, right now, obviously I think there's a time for that. That falls into the category of more of a personal thing for a player. I think right now it's just so much about what the team's doing and what the group's doing together. We just feel like those issues are better left for after we're done playing, which hopefully is several weeks from now. There will be time to have those conversations in the offseason. But Lester has been terrific. He's pitching like he has for most of his career, like one of the better left-handed starters in the game.
In essence, Lester has enough going on at present, and the off-season isn't going anywhere. The Red Sox will likely be as willing to talk extension with Lester in November as they would be now, and Lester will be more open to it following the conclusion of what has been an excellent campaign for both himself and his club.
Whether or not a Lester extension is the right thing to do in the long-term is a debate for another day, but, given the influx of pitching talent the Red Sox possess and could move -- be it Lester or prospects -- there probably isn't an outright wrong answer, assuming the contract isn't exorbitant. Reportedly, the Sox have already decided to pick up Lester's option for 2014, though, official word for that will also wait until the off-season.
Lester has been excellent in 2013, minus a three-start stretch in which he allowed 17 of the 83 total runs he's given up on the year -- cut those iffy starts where his mechanics vanished out, and Lester's ERA on the season is a vintage-Lesterian 3.34. He's getting there a different way than he used to, but it's arguable that none of Boston's pitching prospects are expected to grow up to be as productive as Lester, which admittedly has more to do with his abilities than their own. There's also -- as there was with Dustin Pedroia's extension -- the chance the Red Sox want Lester to be the model for all of the kids coming up through the system, in terms of work ethic and dedication. We'll have to wait and see on all of that, though, as there are certainly arguments in multiple directions for keeping or letting him go post-2014.
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