Jon Lester: "I want to be here till they rip this jersey off my back.”
With monster contracts becoming the norm and players leaving their longtime teams left and right (we’re talking to you, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury), it’s refreshing to see that there’s still such a thing as team loyalty. ESPNBoston.com reported that during media availability at the Boston Baseball Writers' Association of America awards dinner, Jon Lester expressed that Boston was the only place he wanted to be, even if that means taking a discount.
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"These guys are my No. 1 priority,'' Lester said. "I want to be here till they rip this jersey off my back.”
Lester has had his struggles in his eight-season career with the Sox, but there’s no doubt that Red Sox Nation has treated him well. And he’s given back, being instrumental in the two World Series-winning postseasons that he has pitched in. He harkened to fellow loyal teammate Dustin Pedroia when explaining his reasoning for wanting to stay with the team at any cost.
"It's like Pedey,” Lester said. “He left a lot of money on the table to stay here. That's what he wanted to do. I understand that. That's my choice, that's his choice. I understand that to stay here, you're not going to get a free-agent deal. You're not going to do it. You can't. 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.”
After receiving a $13 million club option following the 2013 season, Lester will be up for free agency at the end of the 2014 season. The pitcher and team management have yet to discuss any contract extensions, but Lester would like that to happen soon.
"I would hope they want me to stay here,'' Lester said. "Hopefully, we can get something done. When the time comes, we'll worry about it. If it's spring training, if it's during the season, the offseason the next year, these guys are my priority. We're going to listen to them first, and we'll see where we're at. Any time you get in this situation, I think that's everybody's goal, to reach some type of ground in spring and that way, everybody's relaxed, everybody's in the same place, so when the season starts, you can just worry about baseball.''