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Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Daniel Nava 03.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford assess the next-to-last spring outing of Red Sox starter John Lackey, who gave up 10 hits and five runs, including two home runs, over 4 2/3 innings Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Petraglia and Bradford discuss the latest on contract negotiations for David Ortiz and Jon Lester and the base running lessons involving Daniel Nava.

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No luxury tax implications of timing of extension for David Ortiz or Jon Lester 03.21.14 at 8:11 pm ET
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David Ortiz and the Red Sox have been discussing an extension this spring. (WEEI.com)

David Ortiz and the Red Sox have been discussing an extension this spring. (WEEI.com)

There was a time when the Red Sox were very careful to announce extensions after Opening Day. Players who hammered out the parameters of long-term deals in spring training but waited until after the first day of the season to announce them included David Ortiz, Coco Crisp, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Adrian Gonzalez.

The reasoning was sensible enough. If the extensions had become official prior to the start of the season, then the players’ salaries for the season for which they were under contract would be recalculated for luxury tax purposes. So, for instance, in 2011, Adrian Gonzalez made $6.3 million. Had his seven-year, $154 million extension become official when the Sox traded for him from the Padres or during spring training, his deal would have been treated as an eight-year, $160.3 million pact — meaning a luxury tax figure of just over the average annual value of $20 million a year. By waiting until mid-April to announce the deal, Gonzalez counted for just $6.3 million in 2011 — thus saving the Sox millions in luxury tax penalties that year.

That history created an expectation that, if the Sox reach agreements with David Ortiz (who is making $15 million in 2014 but who counts for $17 million against the luxury tax) and Jon Lester (who is making $13 million in 2014 on a team option, but whose luxury tax figure is approximately $9.37 million), they wouldn’t be announced until after the start of the regular season to avoid a potential luxury tax hit.


The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which took effect starting in the 2012 season, eliminated the recalculation of a contract’s AAV as a result of an extension. So long as the second deal does nothing to alter the terms of the first, the two contracts are treated as separate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jon Lester says his contract talks are ‘headed in the right direction’ at 4:51 pm ET
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Jon Lester is hopeful a new contract could be reached by the start of the season. (AP)

Jon Lester is hopeful a new contract could be reached by the start of the season. (AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — While a new contract is not on the table yet, Jon Lester spoke like a man Friday that feels he definitely has reason to be optimistic he and the Red Sox will eventually work out a new deal.

Lester, after making his fifth start of the spring and lowering his ERA to 0.71, acknowledged that the Red Sox are busy right now. Not only are the Red Sox considering the future of their left-handed ace, they’re also trying to close in on a one-year extension for David Ortiz.

“I know they’ve been pretty busy with dealing with David’s stuff and all that,” Lester said Friday afternoon. “It’s a negotiation. No matter how optimistic people are about it, it’s a tough process. We’ll keep grinding it out and see where we get. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

In the final year of a five-year, $30 million deal paying him $13 million this season, Lester also said he would be willing to have talks extend into the regular season if there’s a reasonable expectation that a new contract is imminent.

“If you’re at the 5-yard line and you’re kind of closing in on the thing then, yeah, you’ll just spill it over but if we’re so far apart and it still doesn’t matter, then I think we’ll sit down and talk about it and see what the best interests are for both sides on that,” Lester said. “But as of right now, things are progressing and we’ll just keep hashing it out and see where it goes.”

Does Lester feel he’s in the red zone of closing in on a new deal?

“Not in the red zone right now. No, no, definitely not there but I think it’s going in the right direction. We’ve had good dialogue so that’s good.”

Lester’s comments come on the heels of a report from WEEI’s Rob Bradford that a deal is not close to being finalized.

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Source: ‘Nothing appears imminent’ regarding Jon Lester contract talks with Red Sox at 3:19 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to a major league source, “nothing appears imminent” in regards to finalizing a contract extension between Jon Lester and the Red Sox.

Talks between the Red Sox and Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, have been ongoing throughout spring training. It is believed the Levinsons have made an appearance in Fort Myers in recent days.

There is, however, still optimism from both sides that an agreement can be reached. Lester is in the final year of a contract that has spanned six years and paid him $43 million. He is due to earn $13 million this season.

Another major league source told WEEI.com earlier Friday that the Red Sox expect a resolution in regard to the negotiations with both Lester and David Ortiz before Opening Day, which is March 31 in Baltimore.

For more Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Source: Red Sox expect resolution with Jon Lester, David Ortiz contract talks before Opening Day at 10:13 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — According to a major league source, the Red Sox expect to have resolution — one way or another — in regard to the contract negotiations with both David Ortiz and Jon Lester prior to Opening Day.

According to the source, none of the parties involved have a desire to continue talks into the 2014 season, which kicks off March 31 in Baltimore. That philosophy, of course, could change as the season unfolds.

Ortiz’s agent, Fern Cuza, was at JetBlue Park Thursday, while Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, have been in communication with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington throughout much of spring training.

Ortiz has gone on record as saying he is looking for a one-year extension beyond the 2014 season. Lester last discussed his contract talks March 5 after his first spring training start. The lefty is in the final year of his deal, and right now would be considered one of the top two pitchers on the market if he hits free agency (joining Detroit’s Max Scherzer.)

“Obviously being a pitcher doesn’t help. You have a lot more downtime,” Lester had said regarding any worries he might have while negotiating a deal. “I’m out there today and I’m not thinking about it. If I continue to do that, and continue to do my work [then it's not an issue]. It’s when you’re keeping your mind busy is when you don’t think about it. You can’t stress over it. It’s either going to get done or it’s not. We’ll see what happens. I want to be here, I like it here and I don’t want to change. But at the same time it’s a business, we have a process, they have a process and hopefully we’ll find happy ground.

“It’s a hard process. No matter how much you say you’ll take a hometown discount, or you’ll take this, or they’ll give you this or whatever. It’s the process of going through it. They have to cross their ‘t’s and dot their ‘i’s, we have to do the same and come back and try to find a happy medium for both sides.”

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Clay Buchholz sharp early, tires late against Yankees, but shoulder ‘feels fine’ 03.20.14 at 8:36 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz fires a pitch Thursday night against the Yankees. (AP)

Clay Buchholz fires a pitch Thursday night against the Yankees. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new approach to getting ready for the regular season seems to be agreeing with Clay Buchholz.

The right-hander, slotted into the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, looked sharp for most of his five innings Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees at JetBlue Park.

Buchholz said early in spring training that with a spot assured in the rotation he would look to slowly increase his intensity during games and not start full throttle. On Thursday, he mixed in all of his pitches, working his curveball and two-seam fastball to generate a multitude of ground outs.

“It was mostly two-seam and cutters,” Buchholz said. “The two-seam, that’s the reason I throw it, to get ground balls. Whenever I’m staying on top of it and smooth through the delivery, that’s most of the times what happens.

“I was down in the zone for pretty much the first four innings. In the fifth inning, [the wind] started blowing a little bit, tried to get my legs back underneath me and started overthrowing. I left some balls up in hitters counts and gave up a couple of hits. But I needed to be in that 70 to 75-pitch range.”

Buchholz allowed five hits and three runs in his five innings, throwing 73 pitches (49 strikes). He walked one and struck out three. Buchholz is now 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA. He’s allowed 10 hits and walked three in 13 innings, striking out eight while allowing four runs.

“It’s different than the last couple of times out but I felt good with just about everything,” he said. “I battled a little bit with the changeup but other than that, threw every other pitch pretty well.”

Buchholz added that his right shoulder through four starts feels strong and nearly ready to start the season.

“It feels fine,” Buchholz said. “I think fatigue was the only thing that set in today. I thought like the ball was coming out of my hand better today than it has, with less effort. Felt good in the bullpen and felt good in the first four innings. It’s just getting that pitch count to where we need it to be before the season starts.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford have latest on David Ortiz and starting rotation at 7:53 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford have the latest on the David Ortiz contract situation and his struggles in spring training and why the Red Sox aren’t overly concerned about either. Trags and Bradford also assess the Red Sox starting rotation heading into the season, which will be led by Jon Lester on opening day on March 31 in Baltimore. The pair also discuss the latest on Grady Sizemore, a long two-day trip to central Florida and the merits of Jonathan Herrera.

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