Jul 26, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey (41) reacts on the mound after he gave up a walk during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mariners Trade Rumors: Will Seattle Target John Lackey?

Jon Lester is no longer the only Red Sox pitcher who seems likely to be moved at the deadline (after being scratched today).

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has tweeted that sources are suggesting that both Lester and teammate John Lackey seem destined to be traded before the July 31st deadline.

Lester has overtaken the rumors as of the last couple of days, with the Dodgers, Pirates, A’s, and even the Mariners being connected with the Boston ace.

It is unclear where he will land, but at this point it seems like a matter of when, not if. Now Lackey’s name is popping up, and a trade may be just as certain with him as it is for Lester.

Lackey has had a resurgence the last two seasons, after a dissapointing 2011 campaign, followed by a 2012 season missed completely due to injury. Over 2013 and 2014, Lackey has started 50 games, and posted a 3.55 ERA and 3.74 FIP, to total 5.7 fWAR in 326.2 IP.

This year specifically, Lackey has been even better, with a 3.60 ERA and 3.56 FIP for 2.6 WAR. His current WAR pace would put him on a path to post his best season since 2007 with the Angels (5.4 fWAR).

Lackey is also signed through next year for just $500k, but most people assume he will ask for a raise and/or extension. It doesn’t mean one will be granted if the team who acquires him doesn’t deem it necessary, but he has certainly earned it over the last two years.

The M’s have not been directly connected to Lackey, but it seems to make sense that they would be interested in his services. They have been connected heavily to David Price and Jon Lester, so a starter looks to be on their radar, as I feel it should be.

I know some feel they shouldn’t “waste” their resources on pitching when they have currently one of the better staffs in the league.

The problem is, and I have discussed this in different capacities here and here, that you can’t count on the rotation (or bullpen) to be this good the rest of the way.

Roenis Elias is going to be shut down before the end of the season, leaving you without a #4. Chris Young seems bound to see some regression, as he currently has a low 3’s ERA, but the highest xFIP in the league among qualified starters.

Those don’t jive, and seeing as FIP is a better predictor of ERA than ERA itself, it’s more likely that the ERA trends up than it is that the FIP would trend down.

From there, you have a struggling and inexperienced Taijuan Walker, an injured James Paxton whom you CANNOT count on in the second half, and Erasmo Ramirez, who is just not very good at pitching most of the time.

So while I agree pitching is not of the upmost importance, getting better is. And Lackey would make this a better team if acquired. He is simply more valuable than most of the available bats, and he could even be acquired in addition to a stick, which would be all more helpful.

The cost is unknown, obviously, but the cost of pitching right now is absurd. Jake Peavy, who is a pretty much a back end starter at best right now, netted Boston a Top-100 prospect, and what looks to be a future helpful reliever. Lackey is better, and is signed next year for cheap, so it’s safe to assume the trade cost won’t be cheap.

As with anything, it comes down to cost, and what other options are available. But Lackey sure seems to be one of the better of the aforementioned options.

Also, John Lackey looks like an old horse mated with Sloth from the Goonies.

Tags: John Lackey Seattle Mariners

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