John Lackey, remember him? The former Angels rotation member, put up nearly 30 fWAR in his 8 seasons in Anaheim, the former maligned member of the Red Sox rotation, involved in the Chicken and Beer scandal. If you haven’t noticed, Lackey has been a really good starter since he made it all the way back from Tommy John surgery. Last year, as a member of the world series winning Red Sox he put up 3.1 fWAR, a 1.90 BB/9, a 46.8% ground ball percentage, good for a 3.52 ERA and was an integral part of a championship winning squad. This season, as his team’s performance has dipped, his has stayed very strong, putting up a 2.5 fWAR in only 21 starts, a solid 89 ERA-, and an identical 89 FIP-. For reference, that’s better than Julio Teheran, James Shields, and Tim Hudson.
There’s a primer on Lackey, he is on the trade market, like most Red Sox players right now considering the Jake Peavy deal. And the Dodgers have inquired on Jon Lester. Now don’t be alarmed, but Jon Lester is going to take some top flight talent. Ben Cherington is a smart man, and there’s no reason to not ask for Seager+Urias/Pederson. If this article is to be believed, Lester won’t be coming to LA anytime soon
Adding to previous speculation regarding deals for Tampa Bay’s David Price and Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, the name of Boston’s Jon Lester is circulating in Dodgers circles, although Colletti said he still isn’t interested in trading the organization’s three elite prospects — Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias — that it would take in some combination to land an elite veteran pitcher.
Lester, Hamels or Price (who is certainly not getting dealt) will not be Dodgers, and probably for the better. So look at the lesser options, yesterday I wrote about Bartolo Colon, and how he should be at the top of the wishlist for the Dodgers considering the enviable combination of how little prospects it would take to get him, and him being controllable for next season. But Lackey has something that no other pitcher has. Lackey has 3.0 WAR upside, and will be paid the major league minimum because of a clause in his contract that stated that if he suffered a major elbow injury within the timetable of his contract, the Red Sox could control him for the major league minimum at the end of it, and that’s just what happened in 2011.
That option year may be enough for the Red Sox to just keep him and try to extort as much value out of Lackey, however it works the other way, Lackey is unique in that it protects against the inevitable Dan Haren/Paul Maholm/Chris Capuano/Aaron Harang starter reclamation project who is overpaid, and gives the Dodgers tremendous value out of the #4 spot this season and next season.
The real question is the cost. The top 3 prospects are off limits, so is Grant Holmes because he can’t be dealt yet like any of the other 2014 draftees. I prefer Colon only because of the prospect cost, but personally (and I am very bad at the rosterbation/prospect trading game), I’d offer some package of Zach Lee, a choice between Scott Schebler and Darnell Sweeney and a choice between Chris Anderson and Tom Windle, and slot Lackey in to the #4 spot in the rotation and gear him up for October because the Dodgers are going to need a guy like him.