Lester and the Red Sox have been said for weeks to prefer an opening day deadline for an agreement on an extension to be in place, but there's been enough progress that Lester himself doesn't even think that needs to remain a hard deadline.
"Like I said last week, I think if we're close, both sides have agreed we're not just going to end something just to end something because it's Opening Day," said Lester (MLB.com). "If we're close, yeah, we'll carry it over. I don't think that's a distraction. But I feel like if things are nowhere near being done, yeah, that's a good thing for both sides. You can come out and say what needs to be said about it and put it on the back burner and worry about playing baseball then."
Lester also expressed optimism that an extension would be done in the near future, just as general manager Ben Cherington has done recently.
Basically, Lester is going to be extended by the Red Sox and it's only a matter of time.
Lester, 30, was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 177 strikeouts in 213 1/3 innings for the World Series champion Red Sox last season. He was 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in the postseason and he's now carried that success over into the spring, as he has a 0.71 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.
If Lester is removed from the free agent pitching market, the top four starters stand to be Max Scherzer, James Shields, Ervin Santana and Justin Masterson.