Jon Lester Ready for a Red Sox Reunion?

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When the Red Sox traded Jon Lester at the 2014 trade deadline it was with the look towards adding to the future.  The Red Sox, who were led by then general manager Ben Cherington, traded the fan favorite in Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for slugger Yoenis Cespedes and the A’s competitive balance draft pick.  At the time of the deal, the Red Sox weren’t in a position where the playoffs were a possibility and Cherington was aiming to focus on replenishing the Major League roster.  At the time the Red Sox minor league system was strong and fresh with talent. 

Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com

Lester was set to become a free agent at the end of the season but publicly stated his desire to remain in Boston.  The Red Sox and Lester had dialog about agreeing on a contract extension but those conversations stalled and he turned down an offer from the club for four-years and $70 million. 

The Red Sox sent Lester to the A’s, who were battling for a playoff spot, and he pitched very well for the A’s.  During his half season with the A’s, Lester was 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA, he would finish the season a combined 16-11 between the Sox and A’s.  Lester went into free agency and moved on to the Windy City and signed with Theo Epstein and the Cubs.  He signed with Chicago for six-years and $155 million with a team option for the 2021 season. 

The deal for Cespedes was short lived and he was traded to the Tigers for righty Rick Porcello.  At least there was a positive to come out of it by acquiring Porcello in the long run.  The Red Sox would eventually sign David Price to fill the void of Lester the following offseason in 2015 for $217 million for his services.  That deal was signed by Dave Dombrowski and not Cherington, who was let go during the middle of the season by the Red Sox when the team hired Dombrowski. 

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the former Red Sox ace is open to returning to Boston when his contract expires after this season.  “I’m open-minded to anything,” Lester said.  “Absolutely it would be cool to go back and finish my career where it all started.  But, I’ve got a little time before I really have to sit down and weigh that decision, even if it’s something where they want me back.  Hopefully, I’m still a good enough caliber pitcher that the want of my services will still be out there for people.  We’ll see.” 

I like this for a few reasons, one it would reunite Lester back with the Red Sox, a team that he should have never left in the first place.  Lester coming back would give the team a sound fourth or fifth starter and a proven winner.  In addition, he would provide some insurance for the club as Chris Sale will be coming back from Tommy John surgery.  Lester would be a huge depth piece for a rotation that will need arms.

I look at the potential reunion with Lester similar to what the Tampa Bay Rays did when the signed Charlie Morton in free agency.  The veteran right hander signed with Tampa on short money and years, two-years at $30 million.  A veteran coming into an organization with young talent and would help stabilize a rotation.  Lester could do the same thing in Boston with not having to be the ace but now the veteran on the back nine of his career potentially helping the club win a World Series before he hangs up his cleats. 

Another plus to bringing Lester back would be from a PR standpoint; it would be good press for the club.  Chaim Bloom would benefit from reuniting Lester with Red Sox Nation.  He has taken a hit during his first few months at the helm of the Red Sox with the trade of superstar Mookie Betts.

“We’ve got a lot of what-if’s going on right now ... For me, I don’t know what is going to happen next year,” Lester told Bradford.  “I know I have the team option, the player option, that sort of thing.  We’ll figure that out one way or the other.  I will either be here or be a free agent.  Obviously everything is open."

Adding Lester to a rotation of Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Martin Perez would be a huge upgrade over this season.  The club doesn’t have any home grown talent that would be a lock to crack the rotation next season.  Lester coming back on a short-term deal is a win for both sides.  The Red Sox need to do this not for nostalgia, but because they think he will be a consistent contributor to the 2021 ball club. 



Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Jon Lester Ready for a Red Sox Reunion?
Jon Lester Ready for a Red Sox Reunion?
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