So, was six years/$105 million the Red Sox' final contract offer to Jon Lester before the ace left-hander was traded to Oakland last week? Maybe six for $140? General manager Ben Cherington isn't saying, but said leaks about offers and counter-offers "didn't fully capture the total conversation" the team had with Lester and his agents.
In an interview with WEEI on Thursday, when asked about ESPN's Buster Olney's claim that the Red Sox made a final offer of six years for $105 million on June 28, and that Lester and his agents, the Levinson brothers, countered with a six-year, $140 million proposal, Cherington wouldn't get into specifics of the Lester talks.
"I'm not going to get into the details of every conversations we had. I talked to Seth [Levinson] a lot and not just about Jon Lester but about lots of other things," Cherington said on the Dennis and Callahan Show. "We have a lot of respect for Jon and we wanted to try to find a way to keep him Boston. Jon, as he said publicly did not want to talk about it during the season and we chose to respect his desire. ....I talked to Jon three weeks before the deadline and told him given that, and given where we were at, we're going to get a lot of phone calls on him and I wanted him to be prepared for that.
"When information has leaked, I think the problem with that is that it didn't fully capture the total conversation. Besides the fact that he's an now an Oakland A. He's in their uniform and he's trying to win games for them and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to say much more about him."
With his ace gone, Cherington said the Red Sox wouldn't necessarily be looking for another one. He said one could develop from within the organization.
"I think what I would say is we're trying to build the best team we can and if you set out to do that one particular way, you can be somewhat blinded to other opporturnites," Cherington said. "Any team would beneift from having a true No. 1 starter at the top of the rotation. I just don't think you can set to only do that. You have to build a 25-man team to win games...The other thing I'd say is that when you look across baseball and pick out who are the starting pitchers who are performing like that, certainly there are some who are recognizable names, but there are others who aren't. So you don't always know. Maybe we have one of those guys in our organization somewhere."
Could that emerging ace down the road be left-hander Henry Owens, who made a strong Triple-A debut at Pawtucket just this week? Cherington said the idea of Owens, 22, pitching in Boston this season hasn't even been talked about and the end of the minor league season in September will likely be the innings limit for him. He's pitched 127 2/3 so far.
"We haven't had any conversations about him being in the big leagues this year," Cherington said. "He's not on [the 40-man] roster yet. He's just getting to Triple-A. I think the Triple-A season and when it ends will be a natural governor of his innings. As you know, when we're in it, and we're tryng to win and get into October, some of those cautionary rules for young players are kind of thrown out the window. Maybe we'll make a miraculous run [at the playoffs], but if we're not in that position, then we're less likely to consider those type of things."
Cherington also talked about outfielder's Allen Craig's injury. He aggravated a foot problem in his first game with the Red Sox after coming over from the Cardinals with pitcher Joe Kelly in the John Lackey trade. Cherington said the injury, which led to Craig being placed on the 15-day disabled list, shouldn't be a long-term issue.
"We did they trade, as we do with any trade, we had access to the medical files and we knew what we were dealing with when we made the trade." Cherington said. "[The original foot injury] was something he had dealt with and managed and would require management. It just so happened that his first game [Friday night against the Yankees] with us he happened to hit the bag funny [crossing first base] and kind of tweaked it. Because of his history, we're taking the cautious approach. The long-term prognosis is pretty good there's nothing that happened with is foot that should be an issue for him."
Lastly, Cherington said Red Sox team president Tom Werner's candidacy for commissioner of baseball hasn't led Werner to step away from being involved in the day-to-day operations of the team. Werner is one of three candidates mentioned as a replacement for Bud Selig. Owners will vote next week on Selig's successor.
"He's just as actively engaged in anything as he always is. My conversations with ownership always includes him," Cherington said. "I can't pretend to know all that goes into that job [of commissioner]. I do know, look, what hasn't he done? He's been highly successful in anything he's done. His TV [producer] career and he's been a big part of our success."