Red Sox exercise option on Jon Lester's contract

Jim Rogash

The left-hander will earn $13 million in 2014.

The Boston Red Sox have exercised Jon Lester's $13 million contract option, meaning their ace starting pitcher will return to the team in 2014.

Lester enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2013, going 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in a career-high 213⅓ innings just one year after posting a career-worst 4.82 ERA in 2012. He was even better in the playoffs, tossing 34⅔ over five starts and going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA. In the World Series, he allowed just one run in 15⅓ innings over two starts and defeated St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in both games.

The decision to keep Lester was something of a no-brainer for the World Champion Red Sox, especially on such a reasonable salary. Although their rotation was good enough to lead them to a World Series victory in 2013, there are several question marks heading into 2014. Clay Buchholz has never shown the ability to stay healthy for a full season, John Lackey has been inconsistent in his three seasons in Boston despite a strong 2013, Ryan Dempster was disappointing last year and midseason acquisition Jake Peavy was limited to only 23 starts overall.

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