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The Cardinals acquire John Lackey from the Red Sox

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The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired right handed pitcher John Lackey, minor leaguer Corey Littrell, and $1.75M in cash from the Red Sox according to Jon Heyman, Alex Speier and Jeff Passan. The Cardinals will be giving up outfielder Allen Craig and right hander Joe Kelly.

The injury prone Lackey was a reliable starter before signing a deal with Boston. Since he joined the team, he’s pitched 111 games over 5 seasons (just over 22 per season); he missed part of 2011 and all of 2012 with an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery. Since returning last season, Lackey is 21-20 with a 3.55 ERA and 3.73 FIP. This season, he’s 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA and 3.56 FIP.

Lackey is signed for the remainder of the season (for approximately $5M) with a $500k vesting option for 2015; the option was triggered when he missed 2012 with an elbow injury. Lackey is said to be unhappy for playing at such a low salary.

Lackey will also receive a $500k “assignment” bonus for being traded.

There is an interesting sub-story here. Lackey will be pitching to former teammate A.J. Pierzynski, who clashed with teammates in Boston. There was no word on their relationship while playing together, but it's something that might pop back up.

Littrell was drafted in 2013 by the Red Sox in the 5th round out of the University of Kentucky. He owns a 3.60 ERA in 100 innings at High A. He's not a highly rated prospect, but the type of guy that the Cardinals have had success with recently.

Craig has been an enigma for his Cardinals career. After hitting at every level in the minors, he didn’t do well in his initial call up. After getting some part time play in 2011, he became a regular in 2012 and looked like a future figment of the team; the team signed him to a 5 year, $31M deal with a 2018 club option. Craig’s 2013 saw his power decline, but his ability to drive in runs was unmatched. In 2014, he had struggled to get the bat on the ball. He’s slashing .237/.291/.346, with his playing time recently decreased by top prospect Oscar Taveras.

Kelly has bounced between the bullpen and rotation during his 3 years with the Cardinals. He was permanently moved to the rotation last August, where he became a key in getting the Cardinals to the post-season; he was considered a stopper, ending multiple losing streaks down the stretch. Kelly was 2-2 this season, with a 4.37 ERA in 7 starts. He missed almost 2 months with a hamstring strain early in the season.

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