Red Sox exercise $13M option on Jon Lester: MLB moves

The World Series champion Boston Red Sox have exercised their $13 million US option on left-hander Jon Lester.

Athletics exercise option on Coco Crisp, Rangers' Nathan to test free agency

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester went 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA in the post-season, including victories in Games 1 and 5 of the Series. (Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press)

The World Series champion Boston Red Sox have exercised their $13 million US option on left-hander Jon Lester.

Lester was the starting and winning pitcher twice during Boston's six-game victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The 29-year-old was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in the regular season. He went 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA in the post-season, including victories in Games 1 and 5 of the Series.

He had a 0.59 ERA in his two starts against St. Louis — the best by a Red Sox pitcher making more than one start in a World Series since Hugh Bedient in 1912.

In his career, Lester is 100-56 record with a 3.76 ERA in 221 regular season appearances. His 1,237 strikeouts are the most by a Red Sox left-hander.

A's exercise Crisp option

Coco Crisp makes the Oakland Athletics go from the top of the order, and figures to be doing so again in 2014.

The A's exercised their $7.5 million club option for the centre fielder Friday, though general manager Billy Beane announced it as soon as the season ended with a five-game division series loss to the Detroit Tigers for the second straight year.

A switch-hitter and speedy leadoff man, Crisp hit a career-high 22 home runs in the leadoff spot for his most homers since he hit 16 with Cleveland in 2005. Even Crisp himself was surprised by the power surge.

"Luck of the draw for me. I have, I guess, enough power to do since I've done it," Crisp said late in the year. "But that's not my game. It's part of it, a little bit but 20 home runs, 20-plus home runs has kind of caught me off guard. I think it caught a lot of people off guard, especially having more home runs than stolen bases.

"I'll take it. Next year it might go back to normal where I hit 10 to 15 and steal more bases. I hope that's what it is. It's just one of those years I'm grateful for."

Oakland also exercised its $8 million option on left-hander Brett Anderson as planned and declined an $8.5 million option on catcher Kurt Suzuki and an $11 million option outfielder Chris Young.

Young gets a $1.5 million buyout and Suzuki $650,000.

Beane envisions Anderson back in the rotation in 2014 after a late-season stint as a reliever following an injury-shortened season. Anderson has a $12 million option for 2015.

The A's still must decide whether to re-sign 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, though the club seemed hopeful last month. Colon and closer Grant Balfour became free agents Thursday.

Crisp, who turned 34 Friday, just concluded his fourth season with the A's and a $14 million, two-year contract and helped Oakland win back-to-back AL West titles. He hasn't played more than 136 games in a season since arriving in the Bay Area, limited to 75 in 2010 and 120 last year. He batted .261 with the 22 homers, 66 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 131 games this year.

Joe Nathan becomes free agent

All-Star closer Joe Nathan became a free agent Friday after declining a $9 million contract option in his deal with the Texas Rangers.

After the Rangers exercised their portion of a mutual option, Nathan opted out of the deal, as expected. The right-hander wants at least a two-year agreement, which the Rangers don't plan to offer.

"My expectation is that there are other teams that maybe have a bigger need in the bullpen and will put in more resources than we are," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We have some other areas that are a higher priority for us to address."

Because he finished more than 55 games this season, Nathan was able to opt out of the deal. By declining the option, Nathan gave up a $750,000 buyout.

Nathan, who turns 39 later this month, had 80 saves over two All-Star seasons in Texas. He was 6-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves this year.

Daniels said the Rangers feel their bullpen in an area of strength and depth. He expects the next closer to come from within the organization, though he said a decision on who that will be likely won't be made until the Rangers get to spring training in Arizona.

"We have a number of guys internally that have done that for us before," Daniels said.

Texas still has two former All-Star closers on their roster, though Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz both had ligament replacement surgery in 2012. Feliz was a closer before moving into the Rangers rotation in 2012, then getting hurt.

Soria missed the entire 2012 season for Kansas City before signing a two-year deal with Texas, and going 1-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 26 appearances this season after coming up in July. Felix is still rehabbing with the expectation to be in the bullpen next season.

Tanner Scheppers was 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA in primarily an eighth-inning role this season. Alexi Ogando is another closer option, though Daniels indicated that it's likely the right-hander would remain in the rotation rather than returning to the bullpen.

Nathan missed the 2010 season with Minnesota following his own Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. In his return in 2011, he lost his job as closer early in the season before reclaiming it later and pitching well in the second half, saving 11 games and holding opposing batters to a .207 average.

The Rangers signed him early that off-season, after their second consecutive World Series, a move that allowed them to move Felix into the rotation.

"Joe's been outstanding for us on and off the field," Daniels said. "He's been as advertised."

Tigers decline Veras option

The Tigers are declining their $3.25 million option on reliever Jose Veras.

Veras was acquired from Houston in a midseason trade. The right-hander went 0-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 67 appearances with the Astros and Tigers this year, but Detroit's bullpen was still a problem in an AL championship series loss to Boston.

The 33-year-old Veras receives a $150,000 buyout.

Detroit also announced Friday that left-hander Darin Downs was claimed off waivers by Houston, and outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo was claimed by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Tigers also reinstated infielder Danny Worth from the 60-day disabled list.


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