Cardinals Acquire Lackey; Kelly, Craig To Boston

In their second blockbuster trade of the day, the Red Sox sent veteran starting pitcher John Lackey to the Cardinals along with minor leaguer Corey Littrell and about $1.75MM in cash in exchange for young starter Joe Kelly and outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig.  The deal is now official.   The Red Sox continue to focus on players that can help them win in the near future, having traded Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes earlier today.  The Cardinals further bolster their rotation, having acquired Justin Masterson from the Indians yesterday.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Lackey, 35, has a 3.60 ERA, 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9, and 46.9% groundball rate in 137 1/3 innings this year. His 2014 numbers closely resemble his work last year, a resurgent season after his 2011 campaign culminated in Tommy John surgery and he missed all of 2012. A second round draft pick in 1999, Lackey spent the early part of his career as a front of the rotation workhorse for the Angels.

Lackey joins Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn at the front of a St. Louis rotation that suffered several blows this year.  Jaime Garcia is out for the season after rib surgery this month, while Michael Wacha will return in September in the best case scenario as he recovers from a stress reaction in his pitching shoulder.  In addition, the Cards received unspectacular work from Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly.  Masterson is due back soon from a DL stint for knee inflammation, and hopes to put this year’s struggles behind him before reaching free agency.  The Cardinals are currently in third place and 2.5 games out in the NL Central, and one game out in the Wild Card.

The Cardinals also receive Littrell, a 22-year-old starter in High-A ball who was drafted in the fifth round last year out of the University of Kentucky.  He owns a 3.60 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 0.72 HR/9 in 100 frames this year.  Littrell did not rank among the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects prior to the season in the eyes of Baseball America, though BA ranked the team’s farm system seventh overall.

Kelly, 26, posted a 4.37 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9, and 54.3% groundball rate in 35 innings for the Cardinals this year.  He won the team’s fifth starter job out of spring training, but injured his hamstring in mid-April and missed nearly three months.  Kelly will have two years and 116 days of Major League service after 2014, meaning he’ll likely miss Super Two status and won’t become arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season.  He’s under team control through 2018.  Kelly boasts an average fastball velocity near 95 miles per hour, a 3.25 career ERA, and 29 1/3 innings of postseason experience, but his peripheral stats don’t quite match up.

Craig, 30, has slumped to a .237/.291/.346 line in 398 plate appearances this year.  He hit .306/.358/.492 in 1,420 plate appearances prior to 2014, suggesting he could bounce back for Boston.  Craig signed a five-year, $31MM deal with the Cardinals in March 2013, of which about $26.4MM remains through 2017.  The deal also includes a club option for 2018.  Craig has appeared at first base and the outfield corners in his career, though he’s generally regarded as a below-average defensive outfielder.  The Red Sox have designated hitter David Ortiz potentially through 2017, though first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Shane Victorino are signed only through 2015.

The 2011 Tommy John procedure plays a large role in Lackey’s trade value. When the Red Sox signed Lackey to a five-year free agent deal in December 2009, concerns over his elbow led to a clause creating a club option for the league-minimum salary for 2015, which was triggered with the Tommy John procedure. That means playing for little more than $500K next year after earning more than 30 times that much in each of the previous four seasons.  Lackey has told the Cardinals he plans to honor the club option, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

This season, Lackey has a bit over $5MM in salary remaining, plus a $500K assignment bonus for being dealt. He had been scheduled to start tomorrow in Boston as the Red Sox kick off a three-game set against the Yankees.

Gordon Edes of first reported the Red Sox were close to trading Lackey to the Cardinals or Dodgers.  Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first identified the Cardinals.  Peter Gammons of MLB Network first named Joe Kelly and Allen Craig as part of the deal.  WEEI’s Alex Speier first named Corey Littrell as part of the deal, while Yahoo’s Jeff Passan was first to report the cash involved.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

320 Responses to Cardinals Acquire Lackey; Kelly, Craig To Boston Leave a Reply

  1. stl_cards16 1 year ago

    Oscar Taveras approves the trade. 1st AB homerun!

  2. Lanidrac 1 year ago

    Sounds good. We’ve upgraded the rotation, we can now commit to Taveras both this season and future seasons, and we get to keep both Miller and Martinez, who both have better upside than Kelly.

  3. Kevin McClintock 1 year ago

    Craig has been a good player for us, but Taveras needs full-time at-bats, something he wasn’t getting with the outfield log-jam. And Taveras has a much higher ceiling than Craig ever did or had or will. So this is a win for the Cards if only that it clears up the outfield roadblock and erases the stupid Taveras platoon.

  4. Eric Murray 1 year ago

    Jeez for this price, we could’ve gotten David price lol

  5. Robert Gordon 1 year ago

    Even with a low BA, Craig is the best RBI machine in the majors. He’ll come back and get 100 RBI’s without lots of homers. Bad trade. Lackey at 35; forget it. A 3.66 ERA
    makes him a .500 W/L. Bad trade. Kelly carried the team for 6 weeks when all the other got hurt; remember that? Bad trade.

  6. SeanE 12 months ago

    Great trade for both clubs

  7. javywoz 1 year ago

    Huge overpay in my opinion

  8. john sands 1 year ago

    Jay & Clooney

  9. JBagKY 1 year ago

    On vivaelbirdos said comfirmed with friend in StL. Just putting what I heard.

  10. Eric Mack 1 year ago


  11. paqza 1 year ago

    How so? Kelly’s an innings eater and Craig may be done. Lackey’s making the league minimum next year – probably $15 million in surplus value there next year.

  12. TL 1 year ago

    Yes, its obvious teams are willing to overpay in the market for short-term controllable pitchers. Imagine the haul they could get for long term control of Hamels.

  13. NUWildcats36 1 year ago

    Hey come on, he has a few hours left

  14. Travis2014 1 year ago

    He isn’t playing for league minimum people!!! We will get a 2 or 3 year extension with an 8mil average!

  15. Baseball Legend 1 year ago

    We’re not supposed to take anything that Gammons says seriously. He is so incredibly bias, they could have traded Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes, for example and he would profess it a landslide win for the Sox.

  16. Alex Foltz 1 year ago

    Gammons only tweeted

    Peter Gammons @pgammo · 7m

    Sox get Kelly, Craig for Lackey

    Jim Bowden added the rest. Give Peter Gammons a bit more respect that that

  17. NotCanon 1 year ago

    While Ruben’s done some boneheaded things, remember what we traded to acquire Lee, Halladay and Oswalt?

  18. MB923 1 year ago

    Gammons may be biased but all he reported was a transaction. He didn’t show any favoritism.

  19. Bob Bunker 1 year ago

    The two trades so far only make sense if they resign Lester and add another starter like Justin Masterson perhaps. Their position players next year would be.

    1B- Nap/Nava/Craig (Nap maybe traded)
    2B- Pedey
    SS- Betts/Bogaertes/FA (Betts played SS before 2B)

    3B- Bogaerts/Holt/FA

    LF- Cespedes/Craig/Nava/Holt/Betts

    CF- JBJ/Victroino

    RF- Cespedes/Craig/Nava/Holt/Betts

    DH- Ortiz

    SP- Lester, Masterson, Clay, Rubby, Webster

  20. paqza 1 year ago

    Wha? I don’t think that’s the case, especially not considering Lackey’s age.

  21. ilikeike29 12 months ago

    Travis d’Arnaud
    J.A. Happ
    Anthony Gose
    Jonathan Villar

    If it wasn’t for injury, Jason Knapp could have been a TOR starter. He was really good.

  22. NotCanon 12 months ago

    Travis D’Arnaud is looking like the only player in any of those moves that has any chance of working out these days. Even with his current hot streak, he’s still a well-below average hitter(.656 OPS) and not particularly great defensively.

    JA Happ has been legitimately bad since he was traded. This season (his best since 2010) he’s got a 4.34 ERA and a 94 ERA+.

    Anthony Gose is sporting a wonderful 78 OPS+ over the 3 seasons he’s been in the big leagues, and his D doesn’t appear to be much to write home about either.

    Villar, meanwhile, has a 73 OPS+ over the 2 seasons he’s been in the bigs (with thoroughly mediocre MiLB results as well – .720 OPS through the minors). His sterling -22 UZR/150 doesn’t speak well of his defense either.

    Knapp also spent 3 years out of baseball, and has never pitched above A+ ball (this year), where he’s now significantly older than most of his competition.

  23. NotCanon 12 months ago

    Except D’Arnaud has only recently shown flashes of being acceptable, Happ turned into a pumpkin quickly (like, the following year) and never returned to form, Gose is downright bad (that career OPS+ in the 70s doesn’t look very nice, and his D is sub-par), and Villar is even worse (OPS+ in the 60s with even worse defense).

    Knapp also never pitched above A ball before his injury, and is only now back in A+, after 3 years out of the sport, so it’s really difficult to say with authority that he’d have been a good starter at the MLB level.

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