Olney thinks Red Sox blew it on Lester

The Red Sox tried to re-engage Jon Lester in contract talks, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported over the weekend, but it looks to be a case of too little, too late.

“I think the Red Sox blew this,” Olney said Wednesday in an interview on ESPN Radio. “I think the contract talks are basically all but over before Lester becomes a free agent in the fall.”

In Olney’s opinion, the Red Sox had an opportunity to lock up Lester long term in the spring but instead just muddied the waters with an offer that was well below market value.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, including some in his clubhouse, who believe that at some point the Red Sox had gone to him in spring training and said ‘Look, let’s do a 5-year deal for something in the range of $100-110 million,’ that probably would have gotten done at that point,” Olney said.

“Let’s put that in context. Jon Lester was tremendous down the stretch last year, he’s now having one of the best seasons, if not the best season, of his career, and if he goes into free agency he is going to be one of the most prominent free agents, along with Max Scherzer.

“The Red Sox, instead of taking a middle-of-the-road type deal, they wind up offering him 4 years and $70 million in the spring, way below what Homer Bailey wound up getting from the Cincinnati Reds, closer to what Edwin Jackson got.

“Now the Red Sox the last couple of weeks have been trying to throw another offer at Lester, but I think from his side, their camp is more of the mind of ‘You know what, we’re not close. Let’s not talk during the year, Lester doesn’t want the distraction’ and they’re ready to move on and I don’t know how the Red Sox replace him going into 2015.”