All was well on the Jon Lester front yesterday. He and the Red Sox had talked, and Boston had apparently come in with an "aggressive" six-year offer which Lester's agent said they were happy with. If there was still a long way to go between that and the lefty taking the mound on Opening Day, well, things were at least headed in the right direction.
Then came this from Nick Cafardo:
According to a mAjor league source the Red Sox offer to Jon Lester falls into $110-$120 range over six years.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 19, 2014
It's a strange world indeed where $110-$120 million could be viewed as a low offer, but that certainly seems to be the case with Lester. Six years is a good sign, but expecting to get the ace for under $20 million seems like a pipe dream at best, and even $20 million even seems awfully low.
Of course, if you take Lester's agent at his word, then we've got nothing to worry about. That could either mean that Cafardo's report is off--not outside the realm of possibility given that he's got a $10 million range to begin with--or that our expectations for Lester's market are also a bit out of whack. Given that many expected Pablo Sandoval to get at least a five-year, $100 million deal and that we've now heard that talks are closer to $80-$90 million, that would also not be at all without precedent.
There's also the simple fact that there's always bargaining to be done. If Jon Lester really wants to be in Boston, there's no way he's going to get a big offer from Chicago or anywhere else and not come back to the Red Sox to see if they're willing to match it. And if a six-year, $120 million offer seems low, it's actually a pretty reasonable starting point for negotiations. It only takes $2.5 million per year to make that a $135 million contract, for instance, which nobody would blink an eye at.
Have the Red Sox come in with an offer they expect Jon Lester to jump at? If Nick Cafardo's report is accurate, then no, clearly not. But by coming in at six years and a reasonably high average annual value, they're at least making it clear that they're serious contenders in this process, even if they're not willing to bid against themselves.