John Lackey Rumors

Cafardo On Blue Jays, Kemp, Red Sox, Stanton

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the waiver deadline period could produce some significant deals around baseball. The Phillies probably won’t find deals for Jonathan Papelbon (contract) and Cliff Lee (health concerns plus contract) but A.J. Burnett could conceivably be moved.  Meanwhile, the Blue Jays continue to, as one executive said to Cafardo, “kick the tires on just about everything but never seem to do anything.”  More from today’s column..

  • The Red Sox may have been scouting Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but their dialogue with the Dodgers was virtually nonexistent despite the constant rumors connecting the two.  The Dodgers, Cafardo writes, were never going to deal Kemp, who has been one of their best right-handed hitters.
  • The Dodgers were also never really in on Red Sox hurlers Jon Lester or John Lackey but really wanted Andrew Miller and came close to giving Boston one of their best pitching prospects for him.
  • It seems as if the Red Sox and other teams have finally come to the realization that Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton isn’t going anywhere and that could be a reason why the Red Sox obtained Yoenis Cespedes, who obviously isn’t as good but has the power and athleticism to improve. For now, he seems to feel that Miami is moving in the right direction and appears to be all in on staying with the Marlins.
  • The buzz around baseball is that the Cubs will be all in on Jon Lester.  Cubs president Theo Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were in Boston with Lester during his trying times.  Also, the Cubs will have to rebuild their rotation at some point and adding Lester would be a major, major step in that direction.

NL Central Notes: Lackey, Brewers, Huntington

Here’s what’s happening around the NL Central…

  • John Lackey told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch) that he will honor his contract and pitch in 2015 despite the fact that he’ll only earn a minimum salary.  The fact that Lackey was traded to the contending Cardinals played a factor in his decision: “Obviously, it was case by case.  It would have been a harder decision other places, for sure, but this is definitely somewhere I wanted to be, and I’m excited about it.”
  • The Brewers checked in on such names as the PadresJoaquin Benoit, the RockiesLaTroy Hawkins and the DiamondbacksAddison Reed and Brad Ziegler yet came up short in their hunt for a right-handed reliever, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter link).  Earlier today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Crew were one of the finalists to obtain a notable lefty reliever in Andrew Miller.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington discussed his team’s lack of trade activity, telling reporters (including MLB.com’s Tom Singer) that “we identified potential fits, wanted to add and worked hard to. At the end of the day, we weren’t able to push anything across the line….It was interesting, in that the majority of impact players went for Major League talent instead of teams trying to grab the best prospects they can, as has been the case in recent years.”  Since Pittsburgh was connected to Jon Lester and David Price, Singer speculates that Huntington was perhaps willing to move young prospects for these aces but couldn’t outbid the A’s and Tigers’ respective offers, both of which included established players.

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 ESPNBoston.com 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.



Cardinals Close To Deal For Lackey

11:35am: The Cardinals are getting Lackey, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

11:26am: The Red Sox are close to trading John Lackey to the Cardinals or Dodgers, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.


John Lackey Rumors: Thursday

Yesterday we learned there’s a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade right-hander John Lackey in advance of this afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline. The Royals, Indians, and Dodgers have been linked to the right-hander, while the Angels and Brewers are reportedly not pursuing him. The Marlins were also linked to Lackey, though reports on the likelihood of that deal vary from “zero chance” to the two sides still discussing potential deals. Here’s the latest Lackey buzz as the deadline looms…

Earlier Updates

  • The Pirates were known to have interest in Jon Lester before he was traded to Oakland, but prior to that trade today Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe said the Bucs were in on Lackey as well.  Cafardo also weighed in on previous interest from San Francisco, writing, “The Giants, who acquired [Jake] Peavy last weekend, were also in the hunt for another arm, and Lackey was also mentioned.”

Latest On Royals’ Pitching Search

We took a look yesterday at the Royals’ search for an outfielder. Kansas City has also been mentioned alongside several starting pitchers in recent days, including A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, and John Lackey. (MLBTR links.) Here’s the latest:

  • The Royals have asked the Rockies about Jorge De La Rosa, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.  De La Rosa spent a few years with Kansas City before they dealt him to Colorado to complete the Ramon Ramirez deal in 2008.  Earlier this month, Rockies owner Dick Monfort told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post the team aimed to do everything they can to keep De La Rosa, who is eligible for free agency after the season.
  • The Royals are talking with the Phillies about A.J. Burnett, but nothing is close, tweets Rosenthal. With bats in scarce supply, Kansas City is still exploring the pitching market, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star adds on Twitter.

Yesterday’s Updates

  • The Royals are in on Ian Kennedy of the Padres, along with the Pirates and Marlins (and still others), tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Of course, as Rosenthal notes, it is not clear that San Diego will deal away Kennedy.
  • Boston is looking for power pitching in return for Lackey, but K.C. places a high value on its young arms, tweets McCullough.
  • The Royals have indeed inquired on Colon, but got the sense that New York did not intend to move him, tweets McCullough.
  • The Phillies have had recent discussions with the Royals about Burnett as well as Antonio Bastardo, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. As for Colon, his market is not developing with any clubs, let alone the Royals, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • As of earlier this morning, the Royals were unwilling to meet the Red Sox‘ asking price on Lackey, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Kansas City remains interested if the price comes down, adds Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
  • While the team is looking into adding a starter (and/or an outfielder or reliever), McCullough tweets, GM Dayton Moore says he is still counting on internal production to drive results.

Stark’s Latest: Price, Lee, Lackey, O’s, Yanks, Payroll Limits

Here’s the latest from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark:

  • The Rays are still holding onto David Price unless and until an offer forces a move. “I’d say they’re kind of where they were all winter,” said a competing executive. “Yeah, they’d trade him. But you’ve got to make it so they can’t say no.”
  • Though both sides explored the possibility, the Cardinals and Phillies did not match up on a potential Cliff Lee deal. With Philly seeking a “major prospect” in return, the Cards ultimately turned elsewhere and added Justin Masterson. While St. Louis seemed the best fit for a pre-deadline deal with Lee, Philadelphia still is looking to see if the lefty can be moved before August.
  • The Red Sox are encountering some skepticism from trade partners that John Lackey will play for the league minimum rate next year, as provided by his contract. Of course, that provision makes up a huge portion of Lackey’s trade value, as he would not only contribute down the stretch in 2014 but looks like a very solid rotation piece at a replacement-level price for 2015.
  • The Orioles seem to be focusing more on adding a reliever at this point than a starter, says Stark. Baltimore has been liked to Neal Cotts of the Rangers and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks, neither of whom is a pure LOOGY.
  • In search of bullpen help, the Yankees have inquired into Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, James Russell of the Cubs, and Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies. The club has also checked on outfielders Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox.
  • The Blue JaysBraves, and Royals are telling teams they cannot add significant payroll in a trade, though Kansas City could take on a starter who would slot in place of James Shields next year.

Chances Of Lackey Trade Are “Very Good”

3:00pm: The Indians are indeed interested in Lackey, tweets Rosenthal. Two teams that aren’t in play, he adds, are the Angels and Brewers.

12:01pm: There’s now a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade John Lackey as well as Jon Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). Lackey has been known to be available for days, but there had also been speculation that Boston could work out some form of extension with the right-hander.

Lackey’s five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Red Sox contained a clause that gave Boston a 2015 club option at the league minimum in the event that he missed significant time with an elbow injury. A torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery triggered that clause, making Lackey a highly appealing trade chip even to teams with the most modest of payrolls.

Lackey will likely want an extension regardless of where he ends up, Rosenthal adds (Twitter links), but that’s not necessarily an unappealing concept for teams in search of a starter that can be controlled beyond 2014. Rosenthal lists the Indians and Marlins as two such clubs.

The Dodgers and Royals have shown interest in Lackey already, and reports yesterday indicated that the Marlins may prefer Lackey to Lester, as the asking price could be lesser. However, the asking price on Lackey isn’t exactly tame, as ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported yesterday that Boston wants an established big league starter in return (presumably, one with team control beyond 2015). Indeed, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets, the BoSox aren’t likely to move both Lackey and Lester without getting starting pitching in return.

In 326 2/3 innings dating back to last season, Lackey has reestablished himself as a solid big league starter. He’s posted a 3.55 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, averaging nearly 6 2/3 innings per outing.


Quick Hits: Cards, Fish, Willingham, Sox, Kemp, Lindstrom

It’s been a busy afternoon, but no deals have gone down; let’s round up some worthwhile recent news and rumors as the market heats up:

  • The Cardinals are in need of a starter for Saturday, and manager Mike Matheny says that it could go to an arm that is not currently in the organization, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Philadelphia has sent a scout to watch the Cardinals’ top minor league affiliate, Goold adds. As he indicates, it is easy to see the Cards showing interest in the Phillies‘ Cole Hamels given his high-end talent and extended team control. On the other hand, a recent report suggests that the Phils have yet to go very far down the line in discussing Hamels, and the club is said to be looking for an overwhelming return to part with the lefty.
  • For the Marlins, the desire to add a top-end starter does not mean that the team will part with any core MLB players, including outfielder Christian Yelich, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Additionally, Miami remains more interested in adding an arm that it can control past this season. The club therefore might be more inclined to pursue John Lackey than Jon Lester from the Red Sox, and would have “heavy interest” if David Price of the Rays were to be made available. Frisaro says the club is working hard to make one or two deals by the trade deadline.
  • The Mariners are currently discussing outfielder Josh Willingham with the Twins, sources tell Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The sides were connected a few weeks back by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Seattle has long been said to be seeking a right-handed bat for the outfield. Also still in the mix on Willingham are the Yankees, among other teams including Seattle, reports Heyman.
  • Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp interests the Red Sox whether or not he would be involved in a hypothetical deal for Lester, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter links). Boston has scouted him on and off over the last month, says Edes, and would consider adding him over the offseason if nothing comes to pass this summer.
  • The Rangers are working to deal outfielder Alex Rios, a source with a team interested in a bat tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Rios, who was off to a hot start, struggled mightily in June and but has improved to a .304/.317/.405 line for the month of July.
  • White Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom is nearing a rehab stint, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports on Twitter. The 34-year-old owns a 3.32 ERA through 19 innings, and could be a possible August trade chip if he can return healthy. He is playing on a $4MM salary this year before hitting the open market.

Stark’s Latest: Lester, Burnett, Lee, Kennedy, Lackey, Suzuki

Jon Lester remains the most-discussed name at the moment, and ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark contributes his take after discussing the lefty with several club executives who will not be involved in any deals. He discusses the possibility of eight teams going after Lester: the Dodgers, Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, and Pirates. Though Los Angeles still seems unwilling to part with any of its premium prospects, Stark tabs them the likeliest landing spot.

Of course, Stark also provides a number of important updates from elsewhere in the market in his latest post. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Talks between the Phillies and Pirates regarding A.J. Burnett are “all but dead,” writes Stark. The issue is that Burnett has been unwilling to give an assurance that he would not pick up his player option for next season, creating too much financial uncertainty for Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Phillies have not yet abandoned hope of dealing fellow starter Cliff Lee before the deadline, though an official says that they want significant prospects in return.
  • Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if David Price of the Rays or Ian Kennedy of the Padres are moved, with Stark writing that the former will be a last-minute decision and the latter remains a 50-50 proposition. With the GM seat still unfilled in San Diego, and given that Kennedy remains under control for next year, the club is unwilling to move him unless the return includes a starter capable of stepping into the rotation along with another prospect.
  • The Red Sox are asking for a strong return on John Lackey in discussions. The club wants an established major league starter, presumably with additional control. If that is part of the return on Lester, however, the club might be open to more flexibility in a return for Lackey.
  • The Twins are telling inquiring clubs that they have not yet given up on extending Kurt Suzuki, and could keep him past the deadline. If that occurs, the team could still consider August deals, though the waiver process (and Suzuki’s cheap contract) could prove a hindrance.
  • Scouting trips can obviously be undertaken for many purposes, but Stark provides a few interesting ones to note: The Rangers have scouted the Nationals‘ top affiliate this weekend; though rumors quickly died down, Washington was said to have inquired about Adrian Beltre. The White Sox are looking at the affiliates of the YankeesBlue Jays, and Red Sox as they consider offers for John Danks. And the Red Sox have scouted the Triple-A affiliate of the Braves, who are said to be very interested in lefty Andrew Miller.