Red Sox ace Jon Lester put contract talks on hold when he halted the team's recent in-season effort to rekindle discussions, telling them he preferred that he and the team avoid any potential distraction for the time being. Lester explained his decision to cut off in-season talks, telling CBSSports.com he was "thrown off" by what he saw as a turnabout by the team that he understood to prefer not to talk in season. Lester further said he never received a new number -- though people familiar with the talks suggested the Red Sox were at least prepared to bump the offer to the nine-figure range. In any case, sources with ties to the team say they understand Lester's reasoning and intend to honor his wishes not to try to re-open talks at least for now, with the likelihood seeming to be that nothing will happen contractually at least until the season's end, when Lester can become a free agent. "When the time is right, we can talk about it," Lester told CBSSports.com on Monday night. Word from people familiar with the talks suggest the Red Sox were actually prepared to raise their initial suggestion of $70 million for four years to $100 million for five years, or thereabouts. But Lester said he never was given that new number, or any new number. Not that it would have mattered. He's concentrating on the games only for now. "We never received a [new] offer," he said. "The conversation had picked up. But there never was an offer thrown out there." It was reported in this space on July 4 that Lester told the team around that time that contract talk "isn't a priority." And while he casually mentioned in a group setting here at the All-Star Game interview session that talks could re-start "tomorrow or four months from now," it's pretty clear that months from now is the more realistic option of the two. Some Red Sox people will admit in private moments that maybe they should have been more aggressive earlier in talks. Perhaps some of them took his vow to take a hometown discount too much to heart.
Lester 'thrown off' by in-season contract talks as free agency looms
CBS Sports | Jul 15