Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy,

Red Sox owner John Henry opened spring training with an admission five years in the making: the Red Sox made a big mistake by letting left-hander Jon Lester walk in 2014.

“I think we blew the Jon Lester (negotiations),” Henry said in Fort Myers.“We blew it not re-signing him in spring training,” referencing the breakdown in the contract talks after Lester led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013.

Apparently Lester heard those comments.

“I don’t know if it necessarily makes me feel good,’’ Lester told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “but it’s nice when anybody admits they screwed up, whether you want to hear it or not. It’s kind of a nice gesture.’’

Lester spoke fondly about his time in Boston to Nightengale, and raved about his experience in Chicago, where he has been since 2015 after signing a 7-year, $155 million contract, more than double the now-infamous 4-year, $70 million offer the Red Sox made to Lester the year before.

“I’m grateful for everything the Red Sox did for me,’’ Lester said. “I grew up there, went through a lot of things there, and they were unbelievable to me and my family. I would have liked that negotiation to go a little bit differently, but I love the outcome. I wouldn’t have changed that.”

Lester told Nightengale he was grateful the Sox traded him to the Oakland Athletics months before his contract expired in 2014.

“I think it opened the door for other opportunities in free agency, and helped me realize I could play in other places.’’

The 35-year-old Lester has gone 61-33 with a 3.33 ERA since signing with the Cubs, and has made 32 starts every year since the Red Sox let him walk.

The team expressed publicly at the time that they had reservations about paying starting pitchers into their 30’s due to durability concerns.

The Red Sox owe 33-year-old David Price $127 million over the next four years and just signed Chris Sale to a 5-year, $145 million contract extension that will take him through his age 35 season.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.