12/15/09 4:35 PM EST
Red Sox, Lackey agree to five-year deal
Report indicates former Angels ace will get $85 million
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Free agent right-hander John Lackey agreed to a deal with Boston on Monday reportedly worth $82.5 million over five years.
Meanwhile, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein again proved to be a multitasker. Just hours after closing the deal for Lackey, Boston also agreed to terms with veteran outfielder Mike Cameron on a two-year contract that is worth between $16 million and $17 million. Cameron will help fill some of the at-bats left by Jason Bay, a free agent the Red Sox are no longer expected to retain.
Lackey will join Jon Lester and Josh Beckett in what would have to be considered one of the most formidable rotation trios in the Major Leagues.
AOL Fanhouse was the first outlet to report on Monday that the Red Sox were having Lackey take a physical.
The news of the Lackey deal with the Red Sox comes just two days after agent Joe Urbon said that Boston was starting to lose its grasp on his client -- Bay.
In other words, the Red Sox could simply be re-allocating the money they would have needed to retain Bay, using it for a star pitcher instead of a slugger.
The 31-year-old Lackey is known for his fierce competitiveness. He has spent his entire career with the Angels.
Aside from the Angels, the Mariners had also been trying to sign Lackey. The Mets kicked the tires, but it was never clear how much interest they had. The Red Sox first spoke to Lackey's representatives right after the negotiating period with free agents began in November.
Initial efforts to reach Steve Hilliard, who represents Lackey, were unsuccessful. The Red Sox don't comment on any free agent negotiations until they are complete.
In 2009, Lackey went 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA, making 27 starts. He helped the Angels advance to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. In fact, Lackey pitched a gem against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, firing 7 1/3 shutout innings. The Angels swept that series in three games.
For his career, Lackey is 102-71 with a 3.81 ERA. He has pitched in 234 games, all but one of them starts. He broke in with the Angels in 2002, helping the club cap a World Series championship by defeating the Giants in Game 7 of that Fall Classic.
Lackey's best season was 2007, when he went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA and made the All-Star team.
Making a radio appearance on WEEI back in November, Red Sox manager Terry Francona had plenty of praise for Lackey.
"John Lackey is one of the best. Every year, there are a couple of guys that seems like they can sway the fortunes of an organization," Francona said to hosts Dale Arnold and Michael Holley. "I think he's that type of pitcher. Now, to get that type of pitcher, you're going to have to make quite a commitment. That's something that makes our organization a little bit uneasy. It doesn't mean a guy can't come in and help you win, but if there's an injury along the way, that can set your organization back quite a bit. There's a lot to think about besides just the year 2010. But you're possibly talking about 2015. That's a lot of years."
Francona was also asked during that segment if he thought Lackey was an ace-caliber pitcher.
"Yeah, I probably do," Francona said. "He's missed a little bit of time. But when he's out there, I think their team feels like they're going to win. He can match up against [Josh] Beckett, [Jon] Lester, he can go head to head with the better guys in the league and hold his own. So yeah, I would probably say so."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.