As All-Star Game arrives, no movement on Jon Lester's contract talks

Rob Bradford
July 14, 2014 - 4:00 pm

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jon Lester said all the right things Monday at the media availability for the American League All-Stars, yet said little that was revelatory. But for a good reason. There is nothing new going on when it comes to the pitcher's contract talks. According to multiple major league sources, the situation remains the same as it has for the entirety of the 2014 season to date: Lester still hasn't received an offer from the Red Sox that would suggest a short negotiating window, preventing further talks regarding an extension. Despite recent efforts by the Red Sox to re-engage after initially shutting down negotiations at the end of spring training, Lester made it a point that he would only talk if the offer could lead to a quick resolution. The impetus for such an approach was to limit the in-season disturbances. "I think the biggest thing for me is just the distraction side of it. I can handle it. I'm not worried about me, I'm worried about my team and I'm worried about my guys," Lester said. "The last thing I want them having to answer after a game ... like we had to in New York. We just took a series from the Yankees and everybody is happy, having a good time and we have a report that comes out and I have guys getting asked about that as opposed to the game we just won. I've sat down and talked to Ben [Cherington] about that and expressed that to Ben and they understand. Like I said before, I've expressed it to them, this is where I want to stay. Regardless of whether we do it tomorrow or we wait until the end of the season, this is where I want to be. Hopefully when we get to the end of the season we can figure out something and get it done." During Monday's session, an inquiry was made to Lester regarding team president Larry Lucchino's comments to The Boston Globe suggesting the Red Sox started low in their initial offer of four years, $70 million. "I still think they want me here. I think obviously my representation has had a lot of talks with them and Ben and Larry. I think that feeling is still mutual on both sides, I would hope," Lester said. "I think where that started in spring training and then to Opening Day kind of sneaking up on us, just kind of the way that it happened." When asked about the early negotiating approach by the team, Lester added, "I don't know if 'exploited' is the right word, but they're businessmen. They didn't get to own the Boston Red Sox by being stupid with money. Like I said, I don't think 'exploited' is the right word. I think they just took a shot, and like you said, Larry and Ben and the collective group put that offer out there and that's what they wanted to start at. We had plenty of talks after that as far as moving money and moving years, moving money, but never got to another offer, so like I said, Opening Day kind of came in and went and put it on the back burner for a while." In the 33-minute media session, Lester also was asked about Derek Jeter, Stephen Drew, having John Farrell serve as his All-Star manager, the team's prospects in the second half and his consistency this season. But the topic that dominated the conversation continued to be the lefty's contract status. Within the interview Lester shed some light on the communication he has had both with ownership and the team's front office. "I get it. I told John [Henry] and the ownership that to their face. This is business and [they] have a business to run. and when you think about it, I have a business to run," he said. "I have to run myself. I get it. I think you have to try to put your feelings aside in this, and if it does offend you, I think you have to kind of go, 'OK, hey, we need to talk about this.' And we've had those talks. There's things that have come up throughout the year that Ben hasn't liked, and we've sat down and talked about it. That's where I keep telling everybody, the conversations are amicable. We're having conversations, we're talking. It's not like we said, 'Screw you!' or they said, 'Screw you!' and they slammed the door. "Like I said, I've had great, four or five, maybe six conversations with Ben over the last couple of months. We keep talking about, and I keep saying here, I don't want this to be a distraction for the team. And I know, like I've told Ben, and this is not anything against ownership, nothing against my friends or people that I talk to, but I know it's going to get out, whatever we talk about is going to get out and it's going to become a distraction. The last thing we need in last place is to have a distraction. I don't want Jackie Bradley Jr. to have to answer questions about my contract. That's just, the last thing I need and that we need right now." He added, "I think everybody is hopeful on everything. Like I keep saying, the right time will come when we can sit down and talk about, whether it's tomorrow or whether it's in four months. Like I keep reiterating to Ben and to ownership and to you guys, this is where I want to be. Let's see. The year ends tomorrow and I go to free agency, it doesn't mean I don't want to be a Red Sox. That doesn't change anything. Now they just have more competition."