Lucchino: Red Sox aim to keep Ortiz and Lester

Lucchino: Red Sox aim to keep Ortiz and Lester
February 21, 2014, 5:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox CEO and president Larry Lucchino pledged Friday to avoid falling back into the habit of handing out the sort of mega free-agent deals that got the team into trouble in recent years . . . but made clear that he wants both David Ortiz and Jon Lester to get new deals done with the club.

Lucchino confirmed reports Thursday that the Sox sat down with Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza this week, though an offer wasn't made.

"We’re going to give it the priority it deserves,” he said. “[Ortiz] feels connected, he feels committed. He’s certainly one of the most important faces in baseball, so we’re eager to resolve something, if it can be done.

"Since the first day he arrived here, he has been a positive influence on his teammates, a leader, a player connected to Boston. The good will he has amassed applies in virtually every area of our operation, and it was vividly demonstrated last April 20 (during the pregame ceremony in the first home game after the Marathon bombing). He was the guy to whom we handed the microphone.”

As for Lester, Lucchino was gratified to hear that the veteran pitcher would be willing to take a hometown discount to remain with the Red Sox.

"That was certainly one of the highlights of the offseason,” Lucchino said. “It was really nice to hear it when you’re in our position. We will explore the matter as well during spring training.”

Still, Lucchino doesn't want the Red Sox to fall back into bad habits. The deals handed out to Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez handcuffed the team and the Sox only rid themselves of the contracts thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We do keep open the prospect of signing a long-term deal with a free agent, paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime,'' he said. "We haven’t ruled that out. There’s just a rebuttable presumption against doing that. But you can rebut it. The circumstances can allow for you to go ahead and do it.

"The Yankees do it more often; it seems to me that they do it more often as a matter of course. And for us, it would be more the exception than the rule.”