Everybody in Boston is blaming the Boston Red Sox for the fact that Jon Lester will not be back with the team next season. While they may have made their mistakes while negotiating, Lester and his camp is not guilt-free.
Lester spoke about his contract desires prior to the season. He said over and over again that he wanted to stay in Boston and would take a hometown discount to remain in the city that he calls home. However, could Lester have been saying this as a PR stunt to gain the sympathy of the fans and actually said that to set the Red Sox up to be the bad guys?
It has become common knowledge that the Sox offered Lester $70 million over four years. Is that a low-ball offer? Absolutely. However, Lester's camp did not counter offer. As far as we know, Lester and the Levinson's did not make a single contract offer to the Red Sox. Doesn't that seem odd that a guy who wants to stay in Boston did not make an offer to the team he wants to stay with?
The team may very well have turned him off by the offer that they made; however, very rarely is the first offer accepted by both parties. The Sox started low because negotiations would only bring that number up. If they start there, they could have ended around five years and $125 million instead of starting at those numbers and having to go up closer to $150 million.
While he has had a very good season, I am hesitant to call Lester an ace and say that the Sox should pay him. This time last year, he was pitching so poorly that there was talk that Lester would not make the playoff rotation. That was coming off a dismal 2012 campaign. Yes, I know he is very good in the postseason; but if you are not going to make it to the playoffs, what does that matter?
The Sox may not have butchered the negotiations like many believe they did. Lester either immediately regretted saying that he would take a hometown discount, or he does not know what hometown discount is.
Lester is now an Oakland Athletic. He is on a championship contender, possibly favorite. Now that he is on a contender, his value is only going to go up. People need to stop saying he will re-sign in Boston. If the Red Sox were not willing to pay him, they probably will not pay him at the end of the season.
For those who are mad at the Red Sox, rethink the situation. Did Lester just play them to make himself look like the victim, still be loved by the city of Boston, go to a contender, and end up getting paid? It is not out of the question. In addition, look at what they got back for him. Yoenis Cespedes is a power hitting outfielder that the Red Sox were in desperate need of prior to the deadline. Yes, everybody loved Lester, but the Sox made the right decision and are taking too much heat for botching the negotiations.