Only a few hours after sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to Oakland, the Boston Red Sox kept at it Thursday, sending starting pitcher John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals. In return, the Red Sox receive Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, which is ... a huge return.
Lackey has pitched to a 3.55 ERA in his season and a half since returning from Tommy John surgery. It's been a nice career turnaround for a guy who was seen as a disaster after a 6.41 ERA in 2011. And, because of that missed 2012, he comes with a 2015 option at league minimum salary, which is a huge perk.
That said, Lackey also turns 36 in October. And the pieces coming back -- Craig and Kelly -- are 30 and 26, respectively. Craig hit .312/.364/.500 over the last three years before bottoming out this year. His BABIP is at a career-low, explaining some of his struggles. The Cardinals needed to clear someone from the roster, with Oscar Taveras, Matt Adams, and Matt Holliday at the Craig-friendly positions of RF, LF, and 1B, so Craig was expendable. He's under contract through 2017; it's expensive, but he's ownable.
Kelly was never seen as a frontline prospect, and has a 4.00 ERA as a big-leaguer. Still, he's an arm, who could be a reliever long-term, and is team-controlled until 2019.
Lackey becomes the Cardinals' third starter, after Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn. The move to the National League has to help his value. Craig, meanwhile, will get plenty of play in Boston as a corner outfielder. He'll be far better than he has been so far this season. And in St. Louis, Craig's departure means Taveras doesn't have to look over his shoulder, which likely helps him as well.
I feel like this was a huge price for Lackey, but oh well. I'll leave you with this:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>John Lackey, Silas Weir Mitchell. Silas Weir Mitchell, John Lackey. <a href="http://t.co/Cx4D4jkxPF">pic.twitter.com/Cx4D4jkxPF</a></p>— Daniel Kelley (@danieltkelley) <a href="https://twitter.com/danieltkelley/statuses/486331494391373824">July 8, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>