Jon Lester says he wants 'a Dustin Pedroia deal' to stay with Red Sox

January 23, 2014 - 5:50 pm

With the recent mega-deals handed out to the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka, questions have arisen about the future of the Red Sox' own left-handed ace, Jon Lester. Speaking during the media availability at the Boston Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner, Lester made it clear that despite the possibility of a major payday on the open market, he's more than open to signing an extension with Boston rather than pursuing free agency following the 2014 season. "I want to be here until they have to rip this jersey off my back," Lester said. "I want to stay here. This is what I've known. I grew up in this organization. I've had plenty of good and bad times here. I enjoy it, my family loves it here, all my son talks about is going home to Boston, and that's what he thinks is home. If it all comes down to it, we want to be here." Though elite starting pitchers are garnering big money on the open market,  Lester said that he's open to taking a hometown discount in order to remain with the Red Sox. For the left-hander, familiarity and commitment to win weighs heavily in his decision. "I've never been the type of guy to take more money from somebody else to suck. I don't want to do that. That's no fun. I want to win, and if that means taking a Dustin Pedroia deal, to take less money to be happy and competitive and win every year, let's do it," Lester said, referencing the eight-year, $110 million extension that his teammate signed during the 2013 season.However, Lester acknowledged that the lucrative deals and extensions signed by starting pitchers this offseason are difficult to ignore. "It's hard not to pay attention to it," the pitcher said. "As a player, it's good for baseball, obviously being in this situation that I'm in right now, you can't help but notice it and wonder and think and talk. You never want to be the guy that takes the market backwards. With the way the game's gone over the past couple years with TV deals and revenue, you're just going to see those deals creep up." Lester hopes to hammer out a deal before the regular season gets underway. "Any time when you get into this situation, I think that's everybody's goal is to reach some type of ground in spring. That way everyone's relaxed, everybody is in the same place and when the season starts, you don't have to worry about it, you can just focus on baseball," he said. "Ben has told me that spring training is going to be that forum to sit down and talk and see where we're at. But I'd love to stay here. Hopefully we can get something done. These guys are my priority, and I'm going to listen to them first." It will be up to the pitcher and the Sox to see if they can balance the two interests of keeping the pitcher in Boston long-term and finding a deal that makes sense. Sox general manager Ben Cherington noted that progress has not been made on a extension to this point, but that there is an open dialogue with Lester. "There are guys that move into a category that I think makes them a little different and gives them the right to have a conversation, and Jon'€™s in that category, and Pedroia's in that category and David Ortiz has been in that category and there will be others," said Cherington. "When guys are in that category, we want to keep a dialogue going and the door open and we'€™ll do that with Jon, and I'€™m sure there will be a conversation. But until we get to that, it'€™s hard to say much more than I'€™m glad he wants to be here and we want him to be there so we'€™ll see where that leads to.

"A guy like Jon Lester, we'€™d love to keep in the organization, but because we haven'€™t really had a conversation yet, I don'€™t want to start putting a calendar  on it, I don'€™t want to limit ourselves or limit the process in any way. We haven'€™t even gotten into the process yet. We certainly share an interest in talking about a way to keep him here, and we'€™ll find a time to do that, to start that conversation."