The Boston Red Sox have agreed to exercise their 2014 club option on left-hander Jon Lester, according to Anthony Witrado. Lester, who is at the end of the five-year, $30 million contract he signed in March 2009, will earn $13 million to come back for his ninth season with the team.
In 30 starts on the season, the 29-year old Lester has posted a 13-8 record, 3.86 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 193.1 innings of work. He has been one of the most consistent starters in the American League since the 2008 season, and has a lifetime 3.78 ERA in 218 career appearances (217 starts).
Although it was widely expected that the Sox would exercise Lester's option, the emergence of many talented young arms in the team's system has caused some doubt about the southpaw's future with the team. With tonight's news, the Red Sox will move into 2014 with their starting rotation of Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront likely set. Veteran starter Ryan Dempster, who is owed $13.25 million for next season, is expected to be shopped in trades this winter as the Red Sox pursue salary relief.
Although Lester will be back with the team, the Red Sox have plenty of pending free agents on their first-place roster. In addition to center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the team will have to make decisions about the futures of shortstop Stephen Drew, first baseman Mike Napoli, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and relievers Joel Hanrahan and Matt Thornton this winter.
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