LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Jon Lester is going to have to determine his priorities sometime soon. The lefthander is entering the final year on his contract and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday that an extension is on the team’s agenda.
“He’s a key guy, obviously. He’s been a horse for us for us for a long time. He didn’t show any signs of slowing down this October. Obviously he’s a guy we’d like to keep,” Cherington said.
Those negotiations usually come just before or during spring training.
“We’ll see,” Cherington said. “There’s certainly a willingness to have a conversation and we’ll see where that goes. But we haven’t done that yet.”
Dustin Pedroia took a below-market extension from the Red Sox in July, saying he wanted to end his career with the team. But Lester could benefit by waiting. It is increasingly rare for a No. 1 or No. 2 starter to enter the free agent market and he could command a multiyear deal worth at least $20 million a year.
Lester was 15-8 with a 3.75 earned run average last season before going 4-1, 1.56 in the postseason with two victories in the World Series.
Lester turns 30 in January and has proven to be durable and effective, making an average of 32 starts over the last six seasons with a 3.74 ERA.
Tim Lincecum has a 4.76 ERA the last two seasons and the Giants gave him $35 million over two years. Lefthander Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who turns 30 in a few weeks, signed a seven-year, $153 million extension in 2012. Lester’s statistics compare favorably to those of Hamels.
See the Globe on Wednesday for more on Lester.