While there’s been speculation that veteran right-hander John Lackey could call it a career following the 2017 season, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports (via Twitter) that Lackey has no plans to retire and intends to pitch in 2018.
The 39-year-old Lackey just wrapped up a two-year, $32MM contract with the Cubs. After a strong first season, the 15-year veteran took a step back in 2017, turning in a 4.59 ERA with an NL-high 36 home runs allowed in 170 innings. Lackey, though, delivered a solid 7.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 with a 41.2 percent ground-ball rate. Though his velocity took a small step back, Lackey still averaged 90.9 mph on his heater.
While those numbers are the worst Lackey has posted since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2013, he remains a durable arm that can help to stabilize a club’s rotation. Lackey has averaged 30 starts and 193 innings per season dating back to that ’13 campaign, recording a 3.57 ERA in 964 1/3 regular-season innings and a 3.82 ERA in 66 postseason innings along the way.
Between his age and marginal results in the 2017 season with the Cubs, Lackey seems likely to command a one-year deal this offseason from a team in search of consistent innings. The Cubs stand to lose not only Lackey but also Jake Arrieta, so it’s possible that president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer could express interest in bringing Lackey back at a more affordable rate. He should also garner interest from other contenders seeking to stabilize the back of the rotation. Veterans like R.A. Dickey ($8MM) and Bartolo Colon ($12MM) were able to lock in fairly sizable commitments on one-year pacts last winter, and Lackey could very well look to land a deal in the same range.
Is he going to a bad team or taking a MiLB on a contender?
My guess is a team he feels can at least compete for a playoff spot and it won’t be a minor league deal.
It’s baseball, there are like five teams that aren’t contenders, if that. He will get a major league deal, I would guess at the low end of Colon/Dickey or less since he didn’t have a very good year.
Padres, Giants, Reds, Pirates, Marlins. Mets, Phillies, Braves, A’s, Tigers, Royals, White Sox, and O’s. That’s a baker’s dozen, nearly half of the teams, that have no shot at being a contender next season.
You forgot the Rangers
Giants, Pirates, Mets, Phillies, Braves, Royals, O’s are all planning to contend for the post-season per their reps…and they are more likely to decide Lackey’s market than curmudgeon-fans.
Do you seriously believe that any of the teams you mentioned will contend? Not even close.
The Royals are about to lose the entire core of their team to FA. No contending there unless its for the #1 draft pick.
The Giants are a hot mess. They came in last place in 2017 and they are a year older with no help coming from their farm system and they are at or near the luxury tax threshold. No contending there.
If the Mets pitching staff can stay healthy, they might have a shot at the WC, but that is a tall order when 6 starting pitchers hit the DL for significant periods in 2017. Recent articles in NY papers and ESPN point to fact that their budget constraints will keep them from signing any big FA and their relatively bare farm system will keep them for trading for a good player. No real shot at contending there.
The Phillies and Braves are a couple years away. Too many young, unproven players. Even with big-time FA signings and trading for guys like Stanton and Martinez, those 2 won’t be in the hunt this season.
The Pirates? LMAO. No money spent means no way to contend.
Down to the team I root for, the O’s. The O’s lost 3 starting pitchers. They are not known for signing big name/dollar FA pitchers which is what they need. Without at least one top of the rotation starter signed in FA or traded for there is no way they can contend for the division crown in an AL East that has the Yankees and Red Sox. Even if they did sign a top of the rotation starter, Davis and Trumbo would have to rebound to 2016 levels for the team to have a shot at a WC.
Lackey controls where he signs and he stated yesterday that he wants to sign with a team with a real shot at winning it all.
Tell us how you really feel
I think he makes a lot of sense at like 1/$7M to Baltimore
No, no and no. Orioles fans really don’t want to any more retreads. 2018 is the last year of Machado, Jones, Britton, and Brach. Duke and Angelos need to go after better pitchers than Lackey if the O’s are going to contend.
Voice of Reason
What would be wrong with the Orioles signing lackey for a year at $8 million? He throws a high number of innings. He gives depth. If he sucks during the season, then simply release him.
At this point in his career and age, Lackey is a 5 inning, back of the rotation starter that will give the team who signs him 160-170 innings or so of 4.50-5.00 ERA in the AL. (moves to the AL typically mean a .34 increase in ERA and he was at 4.59 last season) That is something you can find cheaper and you typically can get from younger players that have upside.
Last season the Braves signed 2 end-of-career guys like him for about the type of money he is going to command. How did that work out for them?
On the other end of the spectrum, the Padres signed 3 guys for less than $2 million each and that all put up better numbers than Lackey or either of the guys the Braves signed.
If the O’s are going to go with mediocre retread starters, which is what all O’s fans have come to expect, then I would rather see it be younger guys that at least have a shot at improving.
They have one final year to try to contend before Britton, Machado, Brach, and Jones are gone in FA. To contend the one area that has to improve dramatically is the pitching staff. The biggest thing the O’s need is a top of the rotation starter. Lackey will eat innings, but not improve the staff. The team had lots of his type last year. He is not the solution to the O’s pitching woes. He is more of the same. The Orioles also have limited payroll flexibility, so spending $8-10 million on a back of the rotation starter like Lackey impedes their ability to sign that one Ace type that they need to solidify that staff.
Trade for Archer or another young Ace. Sign Cobb or Darvish or both. Those are the type of moves that will improve the O’s pitching staff enough to contend.
No way he’s has to take a minor league deal.
Wouldn’t be shocked if the Cards bring him back on a 1 year deal. Would give the younger guys more time to develope.
Maybe he’ll return to where he started. Anaheim Angels. They won’t contend so he could be traded at the deadline.
The Angels definitely will contend. Their starters will be back for one thing and they will be better at 2nd 3rd and LF with JU for a full season.
They don’t even have an ace. After trout and now Upton they don’t have a great lineup. Pujols is gonna be 41 this year. I’m shocked Upton didn’t go to a better team. He probably could have held out for the same 5 years and a lot more money.
Yea their pitching is weak and the are so RH. If anyone thinks the real Upton doesn’t appear is just hoping upon hope..
Pujols will be 38 going into next year
That makes no sense. The Angels will contend. If Trout doesn’t injury his thumb they probably make the playoffs this year.
The Angels will contend, especially with a full season of Justin Upton. Second place, 80-82 last year. Which doesn’t sound impressive, but it’s the AL West. They were in the thick of the WC race WITHOUT Mike Trout for, what, two months? And with Hamilton’s contract coming off the books, they have money to spend.
The Halos have $55-60 million to spend and still be under the luxury tax threshold after signing Upton.
LMAO. Got a downvote for posting how much money the Halos have to spend before hitting the Luxury Tax. I guess if I said the sky is blue I would get downvotes then because all that was was the facts.
Dial him up Twins.
After watching him and getting to know what kind of guy he is for the last two seasons with the Cubs, I think he’s either going to sign with a contending ball club or he’s just not going to play. He’s not going to sign with some non-contending rebuilding team, like R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon did with the Braves, he’s just not.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he went back and just signed with the Cardinals on a one year deal, assuming they would be interested.
Hell, if the Cubs don’t go out and get 2 legit Starters, instead of some reclamation piece like they did last year with Brett Anderson, I’d rather have Lackey.
You can always count on Lackey to take the ball every fifth day, throw as many innings each start as he possibly can, he’s not bad if he’s your #5 guy and you have a legit 1-4.
Hopefully not to Justin Turner
Thinking way outside the box. Would he consider a bullpen job or at least a incentive laden contract that would be dependent on starts or appearances in the event he was asked to go to the bullpen?
Probably not, he didn’t seem too thrilled to be in the bullpen in the playoffs.
3 teams likely to be interested–Miami, Texas and San Diego. Not saying he wants anything to do with those teams, just that they really need pitching help.
He’s not going to Miami they are far from contenders and they might as well be sellers. Trade yelich and Stanton. Trade Gordon. After those 3 tbey aren’t a good team. Gordon is also gonna be hard to move because he cheated. No team really needs a 2nd baseman. Maybe the rays Mets or Nats.
The Nats wouldn’t improve or get worse though.
Ken In Sac
Dude, hang it up gracefully. It was a great career (most of it), but it’s over.
I feel love me he could be the innings eater Sandy desires.
Please, no. Lackey gave up 36 homers last year. Imagine that in Cincy?!? And he’s a jerk who’s always blaming teammates for his mistakes. He’s not the guy to teach the youngsters. I would much rather see RA Dickey play for the Reds.
I think the Cubs will trade for David Price. Boston doesn’t want him, and Price would be right at home with Maddon and Hickey.
On the grounds of delusion…
The cubs system is all but depleted. They have no top 100 prospects. They aren’t trading anyone from the 25 man roster. And unless Boston eats at least 60% of the contract it won’t happen. Schwaber would be great in Boston. If rather have Chris sale over David price. Neither of them are good in the playoffs.
I’ll take Alex Cobb over both. He’s not 100 mil$ cheaper and he still has a high ceiling of success.
In the words of jon Hart. He’s a plus plus pitcher with a plus change and a plus fastball.
He would do great with the Rangers. They are looking for that ace in the hole for there starting pitching
Brewers would be a good fit for Lackey.
As a Cub fan I would love to see Lackey go to the Brewers.
How so? He would be their ace. The brewers are just not that good. They surprised some people. They are still in rebuild mode.
If a team wants a guy who gives up early runs
before the fans are even in their seats, and puts his team behind
from the 1st inning, then Lackey is your guy.
Give it up John, it’s over
If he’ll sign a one-year contract of $10M or less I’m sure BAL would slot him into the back end of their rotation.
Why are there 36 comments for this story? I was expecting just one that simply asks, “who cares?”.
If he retires he has to hang out with Kevin Millar all day. A 162 game schedule sounds less fatiguing.
Reunion with the angels
He’s a psycho!
Hmmm…the Mets were thinking of bringing in a veteran innings eater. Fits the bill…
In fact, Lackey has exactly two losing seasons and two .500 years out of 15 full seasons. He’s rarely beaten himself with walks, his K/BB ratio has been consistently outstanding. The HR thing is a problem, but the year is atypical. He has 14 years of average to a little more than average HRs before this one. Even great pitchers– and Lackey’s career has been very good) sometimes give up homers.
Madison Bumgarner just had the worst season of his career. I went to a game he pitched back on September 3. My first west coast game ever (against the Cards). I wanted to see two things: Bumgarner hitting a home run, and Bumgarner pitching an outstanding game, regardless that for the NL, the Cards and Pirates are my favorites).
He hit the homer, 389 feet to left. Powdered it, a line drive into the maintenance tunnel. But he gave up three, including back to back solos, and it would have been four but for the greatest homer-robbing catch I ever saw live, by Gorkys Hernandez. The ball was two feet over the fence, in the stands, and somehow Hernandez snared it.
If Lackey gives up his usual number, he has a winning record as the fifth starter on a contender. That’s value.