Red Sox Rumors: Boston Checking Out FA SP John Lackey


According to recent Boston Red Sox rumors, the team is looking into bringing back John Lackey to help fill their void in the rotation.

The Red Sox have some nice mid-tier options in their starting rotation, but lack absolute impact at the top. Sure, guys like Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello can get the job done, but when one of those two is considered your ace, there is a clear need for more talent at the top of the rotation if you expect to be a serious competitor.

Red Sox’s president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a history of aggressively pursing players both in trades and free agency. The Red Sox are undoubtedly going to try to land an impact arm or two for the top of their rotation. After Dombrowski’s deal to bring in closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres for four impact prospects, expect the moves for the rotation to come from free agency.

With Dombrowski’s aggressive nature, and the obvious need for an ace, the Red Sox figure to be major players in the chase for star lefty David Price. In fact, some would consider them to be the favorites to land Price in free agency.

Price is going to command huge dollars on the open market, and is likely to receive the biggest contract ever given out to a pitcher. The Red Sox will undoubtedly have their interest, but it is hard to say whether they will actually be willing to make that kind of commitment.

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Along with Price, expect Boston to be seriously involved with Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto. Both pitchers would also give Boston the ace they are clearly looking for.

Whether they can reel in a big fish or not, hammering the secondary pitching market may not be a terrible idea for Dombrowski and the Red Sox. There are some nice potential bargains out there who could either be a defacto ace for the Red Sox, or supplement Price, Greinke or Cueto as a nice number two.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Red Sox are looking at a familiar face in that secondary pitching market, as they are one of six teams who have checked in on RHP John Lackey.

Lackey is coming off of arguably the best season of his career, posting a 2.77 ERA 218 innings pitched with the St. Louis Cardinals. Lackey’s impressive season will likely allow him to do well in free agency, but at 37-years-old, he is not getting a long-term deal. The Red Sox might be able to find some nice short-term value by signing Lackey to return to Boston.

He signed a major free agent deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2010 season, and things did not exactly go according to plan. He was less than stellar in 2010, but the bottom really dropped off in 2011, as Lackey went 12-12 with an ugly 6.41 ERA. He was hit hard throughout that 2011 season, and was shut down late in the year with an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery.

The injury forced Lackey to miss the entire 2012 season, but he returned to the Red Sox in 2013 in a big way. Much better in the regular season with a 3.52 ERA, Lackey really proved his worth to Boston in the post season.

Lackey pitched wonderfully in many huge post season games for the Red Sox that season, including two starts and a bullpen appearance in the World Series. Lackey was came through in the clutch for Boston, and was a huge reason why they were able to win the World Series that season.

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His success continued in the first half of 2014, but the Red Sox were not competitive. In a deadline deal, Boston sent Lackey to the Cardinals in exchange for RHP Joe Kelly and OF Allen Craig. With both Kelly and Craig doing very little for the Red Sox, and Lackey becoming a consistent force in St. Louis, the trade was a clear loss for the Red Sox.

Lackey was not always well-received in Boston, especially in his early years with the team. That being said, if he can come in and pitch at a high level, the signing would be worth it.

Lackey switched-up his delivery a bit late in the season, pitching from a more side-arm angle. He was able to get more deception on his delivery and increase his velocity. No matter who he pitches for, it will be interesting to see if Lackey’s arm angle becomes a consistent change that brings him even more success.

Finding value in free agency is always difficult, but I think Lackey is an extremely enticing option for any team looking for starting pitching. When it comes down to it, he is a proven veteran pitcher who is not going to command a massive contract. There is a lot of potential value there, and I expect the Red Sox to continue to show interest.

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Will Lackey want to remain in the National League? Possibly. Will he balk at the Red Sox interest based on their past together? It is certainly possible, but there is nothing the Red Sox can do about either of those things now.

However, Lackey is a potential value in free agency this off season at a position of major need for the Red Sox. I am happy to see they are at least doing their due diligence on him.