SAN DIEGO - John Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, flew last week to Atlanta for a second meeting with Jon Lester. The pitcher helped Boston win a World Series. He beat cancer and threw a no-hitter two years later. He grew up in the Red Sox organization. Now, Henry needed to sway a beloved figure.
Boston's final offer, according to Yahoo Sports, was six years and $135 million. Lester signed with the Cubs for $155 million. He rejected those emotional ties for a better deal.
The Red Sox were smarting a day later, but they have options. General manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday he could examine "15 to 20 starting-pitching scenarios" if Lester signed elsewhere. One of those, of course, is Cole Hamels.
A match between the Red Sox and Phillies is not a fait accompli. Hamels is owed $96 million over four years, but would likely require that his 2019 option be guaranteed in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause. That makes it $110 million over five years.
Is the difference between Hamels and Lester worth a strong prospect package offset by a savings of $25 million? Boston must decide.
It could sign James Shields or Max Scherzer. It could trade a smaller prospect package for a host of pitchers - including David Price, Jonny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister - who are one season from reaching free agency.
Just because Lester spurned Boston does not mean the Red Sox will unload the young talent the Phillies crave.