The Cardinals, clearly not satisfied with making only one deal for Justin Masterson, acquired another veteran American League righthander in John Lackey, sending Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to the Red Sox.
Lackey has enjoyed a renaissance since Tommy John surgery after the 2011 season and was an able sidekick in Boston the past two seasons with Jon Lester, whom the Red Sox also traded Thursday.
Lackey comes to St. Louis with the benefit of a cost-controlled deal in 2015 ($500,000) as a result of the five-year, $82.5 million deal he signed with Boston in which it was stipulated that if Lackey had elbow surgery, he’d be paid the major league minimum in 2015. Boston is reportedly sending about $1.75 million to cover a portion of the remainder of Lackey’s $15.25 million salary this season.
The Red Sox also will send high Class A Salem lefthander Corey Littrell to St. Louis.
RED SOX ACQUIRE
Joe Kelly, rhp
Kelly made four playoff starts for the Cardinals last October, including Game One of the NLCS, and now he joins the team that vanquished St. Louis in the World Series. The 26-year-old sinkerballer hasn’t been able to build on a breakthrough 2013 this season, however, because he has spent most of his time on the 60-day disabled list with a severe hamstring strain. Kelly throws a hard, heavy fastball in the mid-90s and shows good control of an at-least-average curveball and chageup. He keeps the ball on the ground and doesn’t hurt himself with walks, but nor does he strike out a high rate of batters, which limits his ceiling.
|St. Louis (NL)||MAJ||2||2||4.37||7||7||35||41||19||17||3||10||25|
Allen Craig, rf/1b
Age: 29 Bats: R
The Cardinals signed Craig, a postseason hero in 2011 and 2012, to a five-year, $31 million deal that runs through 2017 only to see his numbers decline sharply across the board this season. He hit a combined .312 with an .863 OPS in 328 games from 2011-13, but this year, his OPS stood at .638 at the time of the trade. The Cardinals have ample depth to replace Craig in the lineup and in right field with Oscar Taveras. Craig ends his Cardinals tenure by going 6-for-48 in July.
|St. Louis (NL)||MAJ||.234||97||367||34||86||17||1||7||44||26||77||1||.289||.343|
Corey Littrell, lhp
Boston’s fifth-round pick in 2013 from Kentucky, Littrell has good bloodlines. His grandfather Jack Littrell played shortstop in the big leagues for the Philadelphia Athletics and Cubs, and his father (also Jack) pitched in the Dodgers and Expos organizations. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Littrell operates at 89-90 mph with his fastball and maxes out at 92. His changeup flashes plus, and he can also drop a 12-to-6 curve that sits in the 70s.
John Lackey, rhp
Lackey won Game Seven of the 2002 World Series as a rookie with the Angels, but he had a mixed run in Boston since signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal after the 2009 season. He went 26-23 in his first two seasons, but was involved in the chicken-and-beer debacle at the end of 2011 and then had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 season. He has bounced back since, going 10-13, 3.52 for last season’s World Series champions and 11-7 this year.
Since the surgery, Lackey has improved his strikeout and walk rates and is exhibiting better control now than at any point in his career, with career-best SO/BB rates the past two seasons. His 2015 contract calls for him paying for the league minimum, which he told the Cardinals he would honor.