Newspaper article International New York Times

After Title, Red Sox Aren't Afraid to Change ; Team Lost Free Agents, but Boston Has Plenty of Young Talent on Its Roster

Newspaper article International New York Times

After Title, Red Sox Aren't Afraid to Change ; Team Lost Free Agents, but Boston Has Plenty of Young Talent on Its Roster

Article excerpt

Every staff is fragile, but the coldhearted truth of the matter is that the Red Sox have several young arms that are eager to develop at the major league level.

In hoping for an extension of a contract that will expire after the 2014 season, Jon Lester has said he would be willing to give the Red Sox a hometown discount because he loves playing in Boston and has an aversion to change.

"I can deal with three or four new teammates, but not a whole new squad of them," Lester, the southpaw ace, said Monday at the Red Sox training base.

Change of many varieties is an unavoidable part of the team- sports equation. Even after the bearded wonders of Boston rolled to the franchise's third World Series victory within a decade, the center fielder and leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees. The power-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia went to Miami. Shortstop Stephen Drew is without a contract.

Sunday brought a stranger kind of departure for the reconvening Red Sox when pitcher Ryan Dempster announced he would forgo the 2014 season and his $13.2 million salary. The resulting headline was of the man-bites-dog variety, an athlete leaving extraordinary money on the table because, as Dempster explained, he wasn't physically up to playing and wanted to spend more time with his family.

"Obviously, people are going to say, 'How can you walk away from that much money?"' Lester said. "But when he told me what he was doing, I said, 'Congratulations.' He's been doing this for 20 years, and how many jobs are there where you can retire at 37 and not have to worry for the rest of your life?"

With a career 132-133 won-lost record, Dempster had already earned almost $90 million across 16 major league seasons, just one with the Red Sox. He still choked up when, as he finished speaking to reporters, several attending teammates applauded. But soon after the emotions came the analytics, leading to the big-picture consensus that the Red Sox were suddenly in better position to defend their title.

"It's part of the business that when one of your guys leaves you've got to fill the hole," Dustin Pedroia said. "You can do it from within or go outside the organization. …

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