, Newburyport, MA


November 6, 2013

Red Sox have some major decisions to make

Lester, Napoli, pitching and Ellsbury up for discussion

BOSTON — We usually have a month or two to figure out who’s coming and who’s going in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse.

Well, due to some unforeseen circumstances — a World Series and a parade! — the Red Sox have a lot of decisions to make and they have to make them fast.

Aging but awesome

Start with Jon Lester.

He was money in the postseason and now he’ll make quite a bit of it.

The 29-year-old southpaw won both his World Series starts, allowing just one run over 15.1 innings. His 0.59 ERA was the best by a Red Sox hurler making multiple starts in a World Series since Hugh Bedient’s 0.50 in 1912.

The Red Sox picked up Lester’s 2014 team option worth $13 million. That was the easiest decision GM Ben Cherington and his baseball operations department will make this offseason.

Lester is eligible for free agency after next season and so it’s time to bring a contract extension into the discussion.

Right-hander Zack Greinke was 29 — the same age as Lester — last offseason when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the then-free agent to a six-year, $147 million deal with an opt-out clause following his third season.

Lester likely will demand similar money considering his dominant career postseason numbers (2.11 ERA in 13 outings, 11 starts), his career World Series stats (3-0, 0.43 ERA, three starts) and his workhorse reputation (pitched more than 200 innings in five of the past six seasons).

At the time Greinke received his Dodgers deal, he had a 6.48 ERA in three career postseason starts and had pitched more than 200 innings in four of his previous five seasons.

Greinke has a 3.65 career ERA while Lester has a 3.76 career mark.

CC Sabathia — a left-hander like Lester — agreed to a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Yanks before 2009 and the deal included an opt-out clause after three seasons. The Yankees added $30 million and an additional year in November 2011, prompting Sabathia not to opt out.

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