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Red Sox trade John Lackey to Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly

Jul 31, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

Not satisfied with adding Justin Masterson to the rotation yesterday, the Cardinals have added another veteran starter by acquiring John Lackey from the Red Sox. And, much like Boston’s deal to get Yoenis Cespedes from Oakland for Jon Lester, the Red Sox have prioritized the present by getting veterans Allen Craig and Joe Kelly in exchange.

[MORE: Trade deadline tracker]

Not only has Lackey bounced back from a lost 2012 season with two consecutive solid years as a mid-rotation starter in Boston–posting a 3.55 ERA in 50 total starts since last season–he’s under contract for 2015 at the bargain price of $500,000 thanks to an odd wrinkle in his original deal with the Red Sox.

In return the Red Sox get a rotation replacement for Lackey in the 26-year-old Kelly, who has a 3.25 ERA in 38 career starts. However, his modest 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings in the National League are reason for skepticism that he’ll thrive long term, especially in the American League.

[MORE: Breaking down the Jon Lester-Yoenis Cespedes trade]

Craig had three straight excellent seasons for the Cardinals, hitting a combined .312 with an .863 OPS in 328 games from 2011-2013, but he’s collapsed this year at age 29 with a .638 OPS and has three years and $25 million left on his contract. St. Louis has stud prospect Oscar Taveras ready to replace Craig in the outfield and in the lineup.

Boston is betting on a big bounceback from Craig and Kelly’s ability to step into Lackey’s rotation spot with similar results. St. Louis is betting on Taveras developing into a star, Lackey being better than Kelly for the next one-and-a-half seasons, and Craig staying on the decline heading into his thirties. It’s a helluva interesting deal.

  1. drewsylvania - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    This deal sucks for Boston. They just traded a good starter for a lousy starter and a washed-up vet.

  2. sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Hey Sox: you’re pretty much 0-for-2 today.

  3. pastabelly - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Cardinals did the same thing the A’s did, which is to get a 1-2 starter that excels in the post season. The Cardinals and A’s both dumped some salary on Boston. Now, that seems ironic because the Red Sox could have used that space to pay Jon Lester.

    Nava and Carp are junk. Of course, so is Bradley junior. I do like Holt. Long term, he’s probably a 4th outfielder and back up infielder worth 30+ at bats a year.

    • sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      Bradley adjusted to an open stance recently, and has had better results at the plate. Defensively he’s elite. My concern is that, with Craig, they’ll send Bradley down. I mean, what options do they have, their current outfield being Cespedes, Bradley, and Victorino? Victorino’s only going to sit if he’s hurt (which, admittedly, happens a lot). Would they really play Craig over Bradley? God I hope not.

    • sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      Btw, according to WEEI, Craig was despondent when he was told he was gone. I bet he’s raring to go for Boston.

      • mikereed1 - Jul 31, 2014 at 5:41 PM

        Wouldn’t you be?

      • copperhead19592004freckasm - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:12 AM

        After being traded from St.Louis to Boston, he’s probably ready to kill himself!!!

  4. sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    I think the Sox just wanted to avoid the salary BS that would have gone with that $500,000 Lackey would have been playing for next season. But again, they basically got crap in return.

  5. sabatimus - Jul 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    I’m wondering about Mookie Betts. He’s been playing outfield due to Pedroia. Don’t Cespedes and Craig represent potential roadblocks for his ascension?

  6. 18thstreet - Jul 31, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    The prospects for 2015 and beyond:

    Rubby De La Rosa (majors)
    Allen Webster (majors)
    Brandon Workman (majors)
    Anthony Ranaudo (Triple-A, but likely to be called up by Friday)
    Matt Barnes (Triple-A)
    Steven Wright (Triple-A)
    Eduardo Escobar (Triple-A)
    Henry Owens (top pitching prospect, now in Double-A)
    Brian Johnson (Double-A)
    Eduardo Rodriguez (Double-A)

    That’s 10. Only need 5 of them to be good.

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