John Lackey on whether he'd have played for minimum in Boston: 'You guys are trying to stir stuff up'

August 05, 2014 - 5:54 pm

The reunion didn't take long. Former Red Sox right-hander John Lackey had a chance to visit with several of his former teammates just five days after being traded from Boston to St. Louis (along with minor leaguer Corey Littrell) in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig and right-hander Joe Kelly. Lackey, who was in his fifth year of the Boston on the five-year, $82.5 million deal he signed in December 2009 (which included sixth year vesting team option for 2015 at the major league minimum that was triggered when he missed all of 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery), suggested that the trade hardly caught him off guard. "I have some great friends on that team that I left and obviously I had a great last year and a ton of fun with that group of guys but it'€™s part of the game," Lackey told reporters prior to Tuesday's Red Sox-Cardinals game. "I wasn'€™t really surprised. Honestly, it was about as good a place for me to be right now. I was pretty happy with where it happened, I guess." The trade marked the conclusion of an eventful and somewhat tumultuous run in Boston. Lackey enjoyed a solid if unspectacular first year in Boston in 2010, struggled to a 6.41 ERA in 2011 while trying to pitch through a torn ulnar collateral ligament, was viewed as a villain in the chicken-and-beer scandal down the stretch in 2011, missed all of 2012 while recovering from surgery, then enjoyed a dazzling return in 2013 to forge not only a 3.52 ERA in the regular season but to deliver some dominant postseason performances (including winning the World Series Game 6 clincher against St. Louis). He was amidst another solid season (3.60 ERA) in 2014, making him an attractive target in the trade market, particularly given his inexpensive option for 2015.

"There were definitely some ups and downs, for sure, some fun and some not so fun, I guess," Lackey told reporters. "I'€™ll concentrate on last year and winning a championship and really enjoying that year and having fun with those guys."

Still, Lackey was enthusiastic enough about going to the Cardinals that he offered St. Louis assurances that he would indeed pitch for the big league minimum of just over $500,000 next year -- something he wasn't necessarily prepared to commit to with every team. "They definitely wanted assurance, for sure, that I intended on playing next year," Lackey said of the Cardinals. He offered that. But would he have offered the same to the Red Sox? On that subject, Lackey was noncommittal. "I don'€™t know about that honestly," Lackey told reporters. "Ididn'€™t get that far ahead to think about it at that point.'€

 Asked what might have been different about playing for the minimum with the Sox, Lackey offered little.

 "You guys are trying to stir stuff up," he told reporters. "I didn'€™t get that far ahead thinking about it."