Jon Lester: Contract talks ‘a distraction we don’t need’
|06.30.14 at 12:35 am ET|
NEW YORK — Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester said that reports that contract talks between him and the team have resumed are off the mark. The 30-year-old, who will be eligible for free agency after the season, said that he is not talking with the team about contract terms, and further said that he does not plan to do so during the season.
“I think it’s an added distraction that we don’t need right now,” said Lester. “We need to focus on playing good baseball and getting back to the top of the East and going from there, hopefully getting to the playoffs. We don’t need to be worried about my contract stuff. That’s the last thing I want these guys to have to answer questions about. I mean, kind of like tonight — we got a big win, took a series from the Yankees, playing good baseball and we’re sitting here talking about this. This is the last thing we need to be talking about right now.
“I don’t think they’ve started anything,” Lester added of the idea that he was engaged in renewed contract talks. “I know the conversation has been there throughout the season, different topics. Like I said from the beginning of the season, everything is amicable. Conversations continue. But nothing as far as contract or numbers or anything like that.”
Asked if the Red Sox had reached out to his representatives about in-season talks, Lester responded, “No, not that I’m aware of.”
Based on the fact that he’s had success thus far this year while focusing on pitching (he is 9-7 with a career-best 2.92 ERA), he has no plans to change course.
“Like I’ve kind of been pretty consistent with, you’re just asking for trouble when you do something like [talk about a contract in-season],” he said. “For me, our focus, my focus right now is getting this team back to where it needs to be. With that being said, the last thing I want is these guys having to answer questions about me. Like I’ve said, per Red Sox protocol, we’ll just put it off to the end and talk then when it’s more appropriate, hopefully after another World Series. I just think right now is not too good of a time.
“My focus has been [pitching],” he said. “It’s not just a distraction for me. It’s a distraction for everybody. … Coming in, take two out of three, and we’ve got to answer questions about this. We’re not talking about the right things. I just feel like the less guys can talk about that sort of thing, the better. We’ll figure stuff out as we go.”
That said, Lester said that his preference to hold off on talks until after the season in no way should be interpreted as a diminished desire to remain with the Sox.
“No, absolutely not. And I’ve expressed that to the right people — they know that,” said Lester. “They see the risk involved, but I see the risk involved, too. Yeah, we could talk and get something done and I would be set, but at the same time, I don’t want that distraction. I don’t want guys to have to worry about stupid stuff like that, having to answer questions. Once again, we’re back in New York on sources and reports. Like I said, that’s the last thing that I want these guys to have to answer or me to have to answer or worry about.”
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