The departure of Jon Lester was set into motion 8 months ago when the Red Sox offered him 4 years and $70m. Considering Chicago signed him for 6 years and $155m (plus a vesting option), then you can understand why Lester felt the Red Sox hadn’t built much good will with such an initial low-ball offer. Any notion of a home town discount ended when they put forth that bid.
First off, a question I’d love answered is, are the Red Sox happy they didn’t land Lester? Did they just continue to stay close enough in negotiations so they could turn around and tell Red Sox fans they tried? Are they happier with the idea that they will have to not only trade prospects to get a top-flight starter, but that they will also have to pay that top-flight starter as well? Lester just cost money, a guy like Cole Hamels will cost much talent and money.
For them to think 6/$135m would get it done is laughable which makes me think indeed, they really didn’t want to resign him. If the Red Sox had matched the Cubs offer, I am guessing he’d have taken it. So for $20m, they will have to ship a Betts, a Swihart, a Bogaerts or another top prospect and they’d best hope the prospect they are sending doesn’t turn out to be an impact majorleaguer as that in turn will cost them far more than $20m.
Also, are we going to get a smear campaign, a very distasteful thing we’ve seen when people leave the Red Sox. Terry Francona’s departure is a first and foremost example and while I cannot pinpoint it on any one person, the fact is, there are Red Sox sources who leak the worst kind of information, personal information. As a Red Sox fan, I am thrilled they have won 3 World Series in the past 10 years but they way they conduct business leaves much to be desired. For instance, using their high horse to disparage the way the Yankees do business, specifically spending large sums of money on free agents, then to turn around 12 months later and do the same thing themselves. The previously mentioned smear campaigns are upsetting. If I am to believe former GM Theo Epstein, he said of signing Carl Crawford, that he felt a pressure from above to “feed the monster” that was the Red Sox marketing juggernaut. Feeding the monster means signing players not for what they bring to the success of the baseball team, but rather what PR boost, what ratings boost, what revenue boost a signing might deliver.
I’d like to think that winning ballgames and doing so in a classy manner aren’t mutually exclusive.
Of course the main concern I have is who the hell is going to start for the Red Sox next year? I sure hope Ben Cherington has been staying at a Holiday Inn Express of late because he is going to have to work miracles over the next 2 months. Seriously, the rotation is a total and complete mess and as it stands today they won’t have any chance of making the postseason.