While much of the discussion surrounding the Boston Red Sox and their pitching staff has centered on the team’s potential efforts to move Jake Peavy, it would seem another arm from the starting rotation is beginning to draw significant interest on the trade market. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that numerous teams have been calling the Red Sox and asking about John Lackey instead.
The veteran right-hander has pitched well for the Red Sox since returning from Tommy John surgery. He’s made 47 starts since the beginning of the 2013 season, going 19-19 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.190 WHIP in over 300 innings of work. His walk rate (1.8 BB/9) and strikeout rate (7.8 K/9) have both been improvements over his career marks. It’s also notable to point out that Lackey will be under contract for 2015 for just the league minimum thanks to a clause in his contract that kicked in when he missed the 2012 season to injury.
Given the extremely minimal cost that Lackey would carry next season, there’s no certainty that the Red Sox will even entertain moving him at the trade deadline but it’s possible he could bring in a solid return. Few pitchers are available that could match his level of production, let alone at that cost. While that makes him appealing for another organization, those same reasons suggest that Boston could keep him just as easily.
Boston will face a number of decisions this coming offseason around their pitching staff. Jon Lester’s contract is up at the end of the year and as much as the team would like to re-sign him, there are no certainties that they will. Peavy will also be a free agent at year’s end, provided he isn’t moved first. The organization would appear to have options internally should they need to fill in their rotation, but there are no guarantees that these young arms will be up to the task of leading this rotation from the get-go.