The Cardinals’ John Lackey lived up to his reputation as a big game pitcher with a victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game One of their Division Series on Friday. Could the 36-year-old be on the other side of this intense rivalry in 2016?
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, it is “not out of the realm of possibility” for Lackey to sign with the Cubs as a free agent over the winter. Cubs boss Theo Epstein signed Lackey as a free agent in Boston and Lackey also is a close friend of left-hander Jon Lester, who could be used in a recruiting pitch.
With Dan Haren expected to retire, the Cubs are expected to add some veteran starting pitching behind Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel. Lackey, who played for the major league minimum of $500,000 this season with incentives that pushed the figure to about $2 million, would be a nice fit who would not require a long-term commitment.
A native of Abilene, Texas, Lackey also has been linked to the Astros and Rangers, among others. Lackey had a 2.77 ERA in a league-high 33 starts this season. Friday’s victory over the Cubs lowered his ERA to 2.90 in 22 postseason contests.
Here are more rumors from around the majors, beginning with some other pitchers who will soon be free agents:
J.A. Happ: The 32-year-old left-hander found a new lease on life in Pittsburgh following a deadline deal with the Mariners, and the Pirates would like to keep him there, says Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review. The Bucs have indicated they would like to re-sign the free agent who went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch. With A.J. Burnett possibly heading off into retirement, the Pirates will have to fill at least one rotation spot next year.
Doug Fister: Among the many disappointments for the Washington Nationals this season was Fister, who struggled as a starter, was banished to the bullpen in early August and finished with a 4.19 ERA. The right-hander will be a free agent after the World Series and would like to be a starter again, which precludes any chance of him returning to the Nationals, predicts MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. It was only a year ago that Fister was 16-4 with a 2.41 ERA, so expect some team to look for a bargain and give him another chance to be a starter.
Colorado Rockies: We’ve heard this many times before, but bolstering the starting rotation is the primary goal for the Rockies entering the winter months. There are some several big-name free-agent starters hitting the open market, including David Price, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann, but recent history says the Rockies will pass on the top-shelf guys, says Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Saunders suggest GM Jeff Bridich could seek a middle-tier guy such as Ian Kennedy.
Daniel Murphy: With free agency on the horizon, Murphy may very well be enjoying his one and only playoff run as a member of the New York Mets. The Mets will have Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera as less-costly second base options next season, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post is getting “a strong sense” the Mets also do not plan to give Murphy a $15.8 million qualifying offer. Sherman’s consensus from agents and team executives is that Murphy could land a three-year deal in the $30-$40 million range. A qualifying offer, however, could seriously weaken Murphy’s market since potential suitors would have to relinquish a sandwich draft pick as well.
Evan Gattis: After a season in which he hit 27 homers and drove in 88 runs, Gattis could possibly end up being non-tendered by the Houston Astros, suggests ESPN’s Keith Law. The designated hitter will be eligible for arbitration and the Astros have other prospects who can do the job for less money, including A.J. Reed, who hit a combined 34 homers with 127 RBI at Class-A and Double-A.
Sandy Alomar Jr.: The Chicago White Sox have talked to the Indians about Sandy Alomar becoming their bench coach, reports Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. Alomar has spent the last six seasons on the Indians’ staff, the last two as first base coach. A job as bench coach would enhance Alomar’s chances of landing a managerial gig down the road.