We’re still some two and a half months away from free agency, but Jon Lester’s impending job search is burning up the interwebs this week. Earlier, we learned that some of Lester’s former teammates in Boston believe he’ll head to the Chicago Cubs after the season, but that came along with a heavy dose of caveats, including the fact that other teammates previously said they expect Lester to come back to the Red Sox.
As we’ve seen time and time again, traded players frequently say they’ll consider returning in free agency to the team that traded them, and those teams frequently express a desire to reunite. And then it doesn’t happen. Partly it’s just the nature of free agency – lots of teams get a shot – and partly it’s the nature of whatever precipitated the trade in the first place (sellers don’t usually become buyers that quickly, or maybe there are some rough relationships).
Maybe Lester will be the exception? Recently, when speaking to the Boston Herald, Lester suggested a strong willingness on both sides’ parts to get back together in the offseason.
Lester recounts a parting conversation with Boston higher ups where they told him they would be “aggressive” in pursuing him after the season, which Lester says may not even be necessary if Boston is where he wants to be.
“Why would I need to be blown out of the water? That doesn’t make or break your decision, at least for me,” Lester told the Herald. “I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”
There were some additional comments suggesting Lester is very open to returning back to the place where he and his family have been for so long. You can understand that connection. The Herald piece is worth a read.
So, this is all to say: the Red Sox say they want him back. Lester seems open to going back. If – *if* – the Cubs do decide to heavily pursue Lester, it sounds like they could face a stiff competition from the Red Sox. And remember: just about every move the Red Sox made looked like it was with one eye on maintaining competitiveness in 2015. If that’s going to happen, they’ll have to pick up at least one veteran arm to help stabilize a suddenly very young rotation.
In closing … we’re still two and a half months away from free agency.