Red Sox’s lowball four-year offer might cost them lefty Lester
This is looking more and more like left-hander Jon Lester’s last season with the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox’s most recent offer to Lester was far below market value — four years for between $70 million and $80 million, according to sources within the team’s clubhouse.
Lester, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season, rejected the offer and will not resume negotiations with the club until the offseason, the sources said.
The Red Sox will have an exclusive negotiating period with Lester between the end of the season and the start of free agency. They indicated a willingness to go higher, sources said, but are almost certain to lose Lester unless they dramatically increase their offer.
Lester has expressed a willingness to give the Red Sox a hometown discount. But the team’s offer is not in line with recent activity on the starting-pitching market.
The Tigers offered their own eligible free agent, right-hander Max Scherzer, a six-year, $144 million contract that Scherzer rejected.
Lester, 30, and Scherzer are about the same age. They have similar statistical profiles. But Lester, a key member of two World Series championship teams, is more accomplished in the postseason.
The Reds, meanwhile, signed righty Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105 million deal — and Bailey, who also was a potential free agent, is far less accomplished than Lester.
The Red Sox’s offer to Lester was below the five-year, $82.5 million free-agent contract they awarded to right-hander John Lackey in Dec. 2009.
Lester, coming off a career-high 248 innings last season, including playoffs, is off to an excellent start in 2014, with a 2.57 ERA in three starts.