Lester wants to stay with Red Sox
The 30-year-old starting pitcher is eligible to become a free agent after the upcoming season, but he made it clear on Thursday that returning is important for him.
"These guys are my No. 1 priority," Lester said of the Red Sox at the Boston Baseball Writers' Association of America awards dinner. "I want to be here 'til they rip this jersey off my back."
Lester recognizes that negotiating a new deal with the Red Sox might take some compromise on his part when it comes to salary. That's OK with him.
"I understand that to stay here, you're not going to get a free-agent deal," Lester said. "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.
"But just like they want it to be fair for them, I want it to be fair for me and my family."
The Red Sox exercised a club option of $13 million in Lester's contract for 2014. Last season, he made $11.625 million at the end of a five-year, $30 million extension he signed before the 2009 season.
Lester would like to reach an agreement on a new contract during spring training but has yet to speak with the team about it.
"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," he said.
Lester finished the 2013 regular season with a 15-8 record and a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts. In the postseason, he excelled with a 4-1 record and a 1.56 ERA in helping the Red Sox win the World Series.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino wants to keep Lester in Boston.
"You can say that and underscore it," he said. "We love the cradle-to-grave Red Sox player, so to speak."
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