This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
The Boston Globe, among other media outlets, are reporting that former Angels ace John Lackey has tentatively agreed to a 5 year deal with the Boston Red Sox worth between $82 – $85 million dollars. The 31 year old free agent is coming off an 11-8 season with an sub 4.00 ERA, and a postseason in which he dominated the Red Sox with seven and a third shutout innings the ALDS. He pitched well enough to win twice against the New York Yankees in the ALCS, but came away with no wins and a loss.
At first glance, this signing looks like an incredible pickup for the Red Sox. In 2009, Lackey pitched well against all of the AL East teams except for the Tampa Bay Rays. In his career, he has pitched well against the AL East and interleague teams. Lackey will join Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Daisuke Matsuzaka to top off the first four spots in the rotation.
Even Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe cannot ignore this impact signing has in the arms battle with the New York Yankees.
A rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and either Clay Buchholz or Tim Wakefield would be better than what the Yankees have right now in CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, TBA, TBA.
While Abraham’s assessment discounts the real possibility that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes will continue to develope and improve, the reality is the Red Sox rotation is now stacked with pitchers who have shown the ability to succeed for full seasons and continue that success in the postseason.
The biggest concern for John Lackey’s 5 year deal with Boston is probably with his health. Lackey started each of the last two seasons on the disabled list, but avoided the DL once in the rotation. He made 24 starts in 2008 and 27 in 2009.
The question that arises now, with the Mike Lowell to Texas trade potentially hitting a snag due to Lowell’s thumb injury, will Clay Buchholz become expedible in hopes of acquiring a third baseman to fill Lowell’s shoes? How 43 year old Tim Wakefield responds to back surgery could play a role in Buchholz’s future in Boston as well.
After a relatively quiet Winter Meetings for Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox, it seems Christmas has come early for Red Sox fans!