Jon Lester will win the popularity contest in his contract dance with the Red Sox, but will the Sox succumb to fan pressure or will they continue with their current business philosophy? Polls show that Red Sox fans want Lester re-signed. Yet they don’t seem to like long-term contracts. Not many were upset that the Sox passed on shelling out $153 million over seven years for game-changing center fielder/leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury because they sold the public on Jackie Bradley Jr. being a suitable replacement. Defensively, that was true. Offensively, not so much. But it’s only the first year. The effect of being without Ellsbury is undeniable — losing a top table-setter who amassed a WAR of 5.7 last season, compared with Bradley’s 1.5 this season. Red Sox fans seem to like watching youngsters come up from the farm system. If they’re good. And yet they want the team to go all out to sign Lester, who is 30. So, will those same fans promise not to gripe if Lester begins to falter over the length of his next contract? The Red Sox showed us a glimpse of their thinking with the four-year, $70 million offer to Lester in spring training. They are likely to improve on that, but by how much? And if Lester gets to free agency, there’s probably a slim chance he’ll return to Boston, because other teams, who don’t yet share Boston’s philosophy on contracts, will offer six- or seven-year deals. Some, like the Yankees, will because they have to. They don’t have a development system cranking out top lefthanded starters. There are no guarantees the Red Sox do either, but they have more options than the Yankees.
On Jon Lester, no easy solution for Red Sox
Boston Globe | Jul 20