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Most teams that are in last place that sell off 40 percent of their rotation get minor league prospects in return, players who offer possibilities of what a team might look like in the near future.
Not the Red Sox.
That was evident earlier when they sent Jon Lester to Oakland as a two-month rental along with Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes, whom Boston will have for at least the next year and a half. It also was apparent when the Red Sox sent John Lackey to the Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.
For the Cardinals, they’re getting a resurgent pitcher over the last two years. Lackey’s first three years in Boston were marked by poor performance and injury but since returning from Tommy John Surgery, his numbers in the last two years have made him something a team might want if the Red Sox ever dealt him.
Lackey will take a 3.60 ERA, a 7.6 strikeout per nine inning ratio, a 2.1 walk per nine inning ratio and a ground ball rate of 46.9 percent over 137 1/3 innings.
In a sense, it’s a surprising deal to see the Cardinals give up Craig, but beyond Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, there is an unknown factor about the rotation, especially with Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia injured and the inconsistency of Shelby Miller.
Plus for all the clutch hits that Craig had during various playoff series, this has been a very down year for Craig. Craig’s fifth major league season has seen him slump to .237 with seven home runs and 44 RBI. This is after he batted .315 twice and .307 in 2012.
The Red Sox are hoping that Craig can return to what he did the previous three years and they have him signed through 2017, so essentially they’re on three-year, $26 million deal with Craig, who signed a five-year extension before the 2013 season. That’s a very team-friendly contract and one not far off from the three years, $39 million used to sign Shane Victorino.
Kelly is an interesting piece. He’s a young pitcher that has the velocity but has yet to find consistency. He missed nearly three months with a hamstring injury and has a 4.37 ERA in seven starts this year after going 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 37 appearances last year.
Even more important possibly is that Kelly is under team control through 2018, may miss Super Two status after this year and if that happens, he’ll become arbitration eligible after 2015 season.
You can see the reasons for the trade from both perspectives.
For the Cardinals, it’s a chance to add a low-cost experienced pitcher to an inconsistent rotation.
For the Red Sox, it’s a chance to sell high on a low-cost contract (Lackey makes $500,000 next year due to missing 2012) with two younger players who have performed well in the past on team friendly deals.
The Red Sox have enough potential in their farm system but this was the opportunity to supplement it with some experienced talent who just happened to be having down seasons.
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