2009 Spring Training: Lester inks a 5-year deal

Lefty pitcher Jon Lester has reportedly agreed to a 5-year, $30M extension with the Boston Red Sox. The deal buys out Lester’s arbitration years and two years of free agency (which also happen to be a pitcher’s typical peak seasons), and there is also a one-year team option for $13M. If finalized, this would be the largest deal ever given to a pitcher with just two-years of experience.This is a very good move for both sides; Lester has become something of a hero here after his comeback from cancer, and he’s coming off of a great year in which he threw a no-hitter and his ERA and record were better than his secondary stats might suggest (3.21 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 3.90 tRA). He’ll still be very good, but just expect some regression this year. The Red Sox stabilize their rotation and get to keep Lester around at a discount. Not only is he a talented pitcher, but his character and work ethic speak for themselves. As it is, no one really knows Lester’s true ceiling yet. If he exceeds his previous performance, this could end up being a tremendous bargain for the Sox.

Add this long-term contract to the extensions for Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis this offseason, and I think the Sox have done very well in setting themselves up with some cornerstone players around which they can add quality veterans and more youngsters to continue their winning ways for years to come.


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