Jon Lester: Willing to take discount

BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, who is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, emphatically stated Thursday that his desire is to remain with Boston, and he expressed a willingness to take a discount in order to do so.

"These guys are my No. 1 priority,'' Lester said during media availability at the Boston Baseball Writers' Association of America awards dinner. "I want to be here 'til they rip this jersey off my back.

Lester said he not only expects to have to take a discount in order to sign an extension with the team, but he is willing to do so.

"It's like Pedey [Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox second baseman]. He left a lot of money on the table to stay here. That's what he wanted to do. I understand that. That's my choice, that's his choice.

"I understand that to stay here, you're not going to get a free-agent deal. 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.''

Lester said he has not yet spoken with general manager Ben Cherington regarding an extension, but said he was confident the Red Sox understood his desire to stay in Boston. He said he hoped the sides could reach an agreement in spring training, but he set no deadline.

"I would hope they want me to stay here,'' Lester said. "Hopefully, we can get something done. When the time comes, we'll worry about it. If it's spring training, if it's during the season, the offseason the next year, these guys are my priority. We're going to listen to them first, and we'll see where we're at.

"Anytime 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.''

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino was happy to hear about Lester's desire to remain in Boston.

"Love that," he said at the writers dinner. "I appreciate hearing that a lot. Loyalty is a two-way street, and he has shown that to us and we've tried to show that to him over the years and hope that continues as long as he is a baseball player. We love the cradle-to-grave Red Sox player, so to speak.

"We've tried to make Boston a destination ever since we got here. When I hear those words from Jon Lester, in particular, it's very encouraging, very comforting."

Asked if it was safe to say the desire for Lester to stay in Boston is mutual, Lucchino said, "You can say that, and underscore it."

Lester was paid $11.625 million last season in the final year of a five-year, $30 million extension he signed just before the 2009 season. The Red Sox exercised a $13 million 2014 club option. He is represented by Aces, the same agency (Seth and Sam Levinson) that represented Pedroia.