Lester and Red Sox 'still talking' about extension

Lester and Red Sox 'still talking' about extension
March 26, 2014, 5:45 pm
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(AP Photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With time running out on spring training, Jon Lester had little to report on his ongoing contract extension talks with the Red Sox.

"No update," said Lester. "I think, like [general manager Ben Cherington] said the other day, both sides are optimistic about it. The biggest thing, really, anytime you're talking about something like this, is communication. So as long as both sides are open and we're communicating, I think there's always that chance of something being done.

"But as for anything else, I can't really comment on it. That's up to Sam and Seth (Levinson, his agents) as far as the details. But I know communication is still open and nobody's blown up on anyone, so that's a good sign."

Talks between the Red Sox and Lester began to percolate last week, but this deal isn't as simple as the one agreed to with David Ortiz Sunday night. While Ortiz got a one-year extension -- and two possible option years -- Lester will be looking for a minimum of five years and likely more, with average annual value of approximately $20 million.

Lester would like a deal done before Monday's season opener, but is willing to let talks continue into the season if there's cause.

"Like I said last week," said Lester, "if we're close, both sides have agreed that we're not going to end something just to end something because it's Opening Day. But if we're close, we'll carry it over. I don't feel like that's a distraction.

"But if things are nowhere near being done, I think [stopping] is a good thing for both sides. You can come out and say what you want about it and put in on the back burner and worry about playing baseball then."

When asked if he thought there might be reason to keep talking past Sunday, Lester was non-committal.

"I don't know," he said. "I know as far as the dialogue, it's gone well. The biggest thing is they're still talking. We know how these things go - guys blow up on each other and it's ended pretty quickly. I think it's a positive that they're still talking and we'll keep going from there."

Lester was asked to comment on Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer, who turned down a reported six-year, $144 million deal last week. Scherzer is a little more than a year younger than Lester, and also eligible for free agency after this season.

"That stauff is hard to comment on because I'm not him," said Lester, choosing his words carefully. "I don't ever want to talk about bad about anyone's decision. That's his decision. If he comes and takes six years for $40 million, that's his decision. I'm not ever going to badmouth anybody. They have their own beliefs, their own mindset, their own representation.

"Personally, if that's me, that's hard to walk away from. That's hard to walk away from. But he's betting on himself. Maybe deep down, he really wanted to be a free agent. We don't get to it very often. Maybe that's his ultimate thing and he wants to do it. I don't know him. I've never spoken to the guy, so I can't really comment on that.

"But personally, that would be hard [to refuse]. I can't comment on it because it's not sitting in front of me. If it was sitting in front of me, we could talk. But it would be tough -- put it that way. It would be tough."