Left-hander Jon Lester has told the Red Sox that he would like to table extension talks until the end of the season and just focus on pitching, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The sides are expected to once again discuss a contract extension after the season is completed, when Boston has exclusive negotiating rights with Lester in the weeks before he hits the free agent market.
Lester, who is 9-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 17 starts this season, has been discussing an extension with the Red Sox dating back to last offseason. Boston reportedly made him a four-year, $70M offer before the season that he rejected, as he was said to be looking for a deal in the range of the six-year, $105M pact that Homer Bailey inked with the Reds.
Lester has previously stated that he would be willing to take a hometown discount to stay in Boston, which means the Sox will make him a priority as they begin crafting their offseason plans. The list of other available arms this winter includes expensive commodities like Max Scherzer and James Shields, so the Sox would be wise to try to lock up Lester for a discounted price, if he is still willing to make that deal.
While the Red Sox could theoretically get a huge prospect return back for Lester if they were to move him at the trade deadline, the state of their current farm system indicates that a deal is unlikely. Boston has one of the best farm systems in baseball and a stable of young pitching depth, meaning that an established veteran ace like Lester would be a perfect fit at the top of their rotation for years to come.