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Lester’s Contract Looms For Sox

_CE20892.JPGWith Opening Day only 24 days away, there is one pressing issue revolving around the Red Sox pitching staff that has not been resolved.

The club’s ace, Jon Lester, is entering the final year of his contract with the team that drafted him back when he was only 18 years old. Now 30, Lester will have to decide if he wants to stay with the only team he has ever played for, or test the free agent market after the 2014 season.

“I don’t like change,” Lester said during an interview with CBSSports.com a week ago. “I like being where I’ve been. I like the people. I like the surroundings. It feels like home.”

Lester acknowledged that he would most likely have to take a hometown discount to stay with the Red Sox, and that is something he would be willing to do.

Similar to Dustin Pedroia, who received his eight-year extension last summer, Lester wants to stay in Boston until “they rip this jersey off my back.” This doesn’t guarantee that Lester will be in Boston for years to come, but it makes the possibility more likely.

“We appreciate him saying he wants to be a Red Sox,” said Red Sox chairman, Tom Werner. “We’re crazy about him.”

“We’d all love him to stay and hope he’s pitching for the Red Sox past this year,” said Werner. “He’s been such a valuable player for us. It would be a great deal for the organization if we can figure out an extension.”

Though Lester has not set a deadline for when he would like to get an extension done, he would ultimately like to get something done early in the season. If the Sox and Lester cannot reach a deal before the season’s end, the veteran lefty will be sure to have many suitors vying for his services.

Lester recorded 15 wins and 8 losses in the 2013 season, posting a 3.75 ERA in 33 regular season games and was an instrumental factor in the Red Sox success during the post-season. Lester won four out of the five starts he made in the playoffs and posted a 0.59 ERA in two World Series starts, both of which he won. The lefty also recorded 15 strikeouts over those two starts.

When talking about his contract situation, Lester said he understands that staying would require taking less money. However that’s not something he’s worried about.

“I understand that to stay here, you’re not going to get a free-agent deal,” he said. “You’re not going to do it. It’s not possible. You’re bidding against one team. I understand you’re going to take a discount to stay. Do I want to do that? Absolutely.”

Lester also mentioned how Boston has become home for his family.

“Since we left Boston [for the off-season in Atlanta], all my son has talked about is going home to Boston. He says, ‘I want to go home to Boston.’ This is our home. This is what my family knows, this is what we’ve become comfortable with.”

Lester is a hard-worker, understands the pressure that comes along with playing in Boston, and has embraced the city. Not to mention he has also been the ace of the staff for quite a few years.

Now is the time to get something done.

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