The Cubs’ clubhouse celebration after clinching the NL Central included some telling comments from Jon Lester, who proclaimed that John Lackey had made “probably his last regular-season start. Here’s to one hell of a career!” before toasting his longtime teammate. (USA Today’s Bob Nightengale has the details.) This is the first open acknowledgement that Lackey is heading towards retirement after the season. Lackey’s two-year, $32MM contract is up once the Cubs conclude their postseason run, and he turns 39 in October. He struggled to a 4.56 ERA over 169 2/3 innings thanks in large part to problems with the long ball, as Lackey surrendered a league-high 36 homers and a career-high 18.3% home run rate. Still, Lackey has enjoyed a tremendous 15 seasons in the big leagues and, coming out of the Cubs bullpen in the playoffs, he’ll look to collect his fourth World Series ring.
Here’s more from around baseball as we head into the final weekend of the regular season…
- The Cardinals don’t expect extensions with any of their upcoming free agents before the season is over, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. This includes Lance Lynn, whose representatives haven’t had any in-depth talks with the club about a new deal. When asked if Thursday’s start could be his last with the Cardinals, Lynn said it “certainly looks that way.” Lynn looks to be one of the top pitchers available in this year’s free agent market, and it appears he’ll be departing a Cards rotation that will mostly be relying on promising younger arms in 2018.
- Also from Goold’s article, he reports that the Cardinals have been in touch with Juan Nicasio about a new deal. Nicasio came to St. Louis after a rather surprising series of transactions that saw the right-hander waived by the Pirates, claimed by the Phillies and then dealt to the Cards all within a week’s time at the end of August and in early September. No matter the uniform, Nicasio pitched well, posting a 2.65 ERA, 3.55 K/BB rate and 71 strikeouts over 71 1/3 innings for his three teams, making a league-high 75 appearances. The Cardinals have clearly liked what they’ve seen in their short time with Nicasio on the roster and may be trying to lock Nicasio up before he hits the open market.
- There is mutual interest between the Giants and Nick Hundley in a new contract, though Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle observes that it might hinge on how much playing time Hundley is able to find elsewhere from a catching-needy team. Obviously, anything more than a backup role isn’t an option in San Francisco with Buster Posey locked in as the regular catcher. Hundley hit .246/.276/.425 over 296 PA with the Giants while becoming a big voice in the team’s clubhouse.