Sports

Sox need to spend on Lester

Friday, July 18, 2014

If the Red Sox lose Jon Lester in free agency, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Of course, that’s assuming that Lester, whose contract is up at the end of the year, remains in Boston for the duration of the 2014 season. I can’t imagine what another team would have to give up – Giancarlo Stanton, maybe – to pry him away from the Red Sox before the trade deadline.

But after this season is over? If the Boston upper management can’t find a way to get a deal done with the closest thing the team has to an ace, all the finger pointing should be done at a mirror.

It was sure great to hear Lester bring up the idea of a hometown discount before the season, but let’s be real.

The Red Sox should never have to worry about hometown discounts – or any other type of bargains – when it comes to keeping their own players, or getting anyone else’s players for that matter.

Hometown discounts aren’t meant for teams with the revenue that comes into Boston. They are meant for Kansas City and Tampa Bay and San Diego.

If the team fails to resign Lester, and he signs for a reasonable amount of money somewhere else – meaning, not Jacoby Ellsbury-type money – will you still feel comfortable paying the highest ticket prices in baseball?

If the Red Sox go through another offseason without really spending any money on anyone again, whether it’s their own players or someone else’s, will you still want to spend a week’s salary to take your family to a game?

Of course, there is a number that the team shouldn’t be willing to pay to keep Lester. Giving him a deal similar to that of Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers would be insane, because, let’s face it, no matter how good he is, Lester’s ceiling isn’t as high as multiple Cy Young Awards.

But who else would you rather see on the mound in a big game? Felix Doubront? No way. Rubby De La Rosa? Maybe in a couple of years. Clay Buchholz? There’s no guarantee he’ll be there for you.

Unless the Red Sox plan on going after Max Scherzer – and that’s assuming the Tigers can’t figure out how to lock him down – or unless they have some deal in the works for a top of the rotation guy, they need to give Lester as close as they can to what he wants.

So what if he slips at the end of the contract and they’re paying $25 million-plus for him to stink. The economics of baseball, even with the luxury tax, are set up to benefit teams like the Red Sox.

I find it hard to believe that winning another World Series wouldn’t offset whatever tax they might have to pay and whatever extra they have to give to Lester.

And if the Red Sox are really desperate for more money, I’m sure there are more bricks and more coffee table books to be sold.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).

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