Lester signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Red Sox in the spring of 2009, and he's preparing to enter the final guaranteed year of that deal. The contract includes a $13 million team option for 2014, with a $250k buyout, meaning Lester could potentially hit the free agent market next winter.
Not long ago it seemed close to a sure bet that Lester and the Red Sox would reach an agreement on another long-term contract. However, following the team's front office shakeup and the left-hander's shaky 2012 performance, Boston may be more inclined to let things play out this season.
Entering the 2012 season, Lester had maintained an ERA of 3.33 with a 2.72 strikeout-to-walk ratio while averaging 32 starts per year from 2008-11. Last season, Lester still managed to start 33 times for the Red Sox, but he struggled to the tune of a 4.82 ERA with a 2.44 strikeout-to-walk ratio.