The season for Boston Red Sox rumors has officially opened. With the Red Sox looking to pull off an instant rebuilding effort this offseason, the franchise — which always generates plenty of Hot Stove drama — appears poised to stage some of the most dramatic wheeling and dealing of the the club’s last few decades.
And in what would be one of the most dramatic and crowd-pleasing moves, it a now appears that Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington will make an all-out effort to bring back lefty ace Jon Lester, who was dealt by Boston to the Oakland A’s at the July 31 trade deadline.
According to a report from longtime Red Sox beat reporter Gordon Edes, who now covers the team for ESPN.com, a “well-placed source” says that not only are the Red Sox going all-in on bringing Lester back to Fenway but they will offer him a contract for as long as six years.
I know how hard this is to believe but a well-placed source predicted that Red Sox will re-sign Lester, and may go up to 6 yrs to do so
— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) November 11, 2014
That marks a major shift in the Red Sox approach to the 30-year-old three-time All Star. Earlier in 2014, while Lester was still a member of the team, Boston offered him just a four-year deal worth somewhere between $70 million and $80 million. Since Theo Epstein took over as Red Sox general manager in 2003, followed by his chief lieutenant Cherington in 2012, the Boston policy has been to avoid giving long term deals to pitchers near or over 30 years old.
Edes also reported that the Red Sox’s offer to the free agent Lester would average about $20 million per season, meaning that Boston is willing to commit $120 million to Lester between now and when the pitcher turns 37 years old.
Lester was the Red Sox 2nd-round draft pick, 57th overall, out of Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, Washington. Lester was actually drafted in the first season of the team’s current ownership, headed by hedge-fund billionaire John Henry. In 2002, the Red Sox interim GM was Mike Port, with Epstein not taking over until 2003.
Lester made his debut with the Red Sox major league team in 2006 but his rookie season was cut short when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. But in a dramatic comeback from the cancer treatments, Lester returned on 2007 and was the winning pitcher in the decisive Game Four of the 2007 World Series. Lester also played an indispensable role in the bringing the 2013 World Series championship to Boston.
Despite the fact that the Red Sox were headed for a last-place finish, the July trade of Lester was hugely unpopular with Red Sox fans. Bringing Jon Lester back to Boston would help Cherington regain some good will from Red Sox Nation.