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Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

December 14, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Lackey appears headed to Red Sox: What it means

lackey.jpg

(Fox links the Mariners to Cliff Lee. I like the sound of that. But the issue with Lee is that you’d be getting him — like Halladay — a year before free agency. Do the Mariners have the means — or desire — to give a whopping contract to both Felix AND a second pitcher? But, then again, they were interested in Lackey, so I guess the answer is yes).

It’s not official yet, but several reporters at various outlets — AOL’s Ed Price being the first — are reporting that free agent pitcher John Lackey is undergoing a Red Sox physical today. That surely means that a deal is close that will bring Lackey to the Red Sox for something in the neighborhood of A.J. Burnett’s five-year, $82.5 million contract.

Some of the ramifications:

  • With Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, this would give the Red Sox a top of the rotation that rivals C.C. Sabathia, Burnett and Andy Pettitte of the Yankees.

  • I hate to award the wild card in December. but it’s sure going to be difficult for any team to squeeze ahead of the Red Sox/Yankees loser. Not that this is a new story. In the 15 seasons in which baseball has had the wild card, the Red Sox or Yankees have been the AL wild-card winner in 10 of those 15 years. (*Trivia question: Name the five AL wild-card teams not from New York or Boston).

  • This takes another free-agent pitching target away from the Mariners, after losing out on Rich Harden (who, I hear, really wanted to pitch for Seattle, and was very disappointed they didn’t make an offer he felt was competitive with Texas’s). Now the free-agent pitching names are down to the likes of Jason Marquis, Jarrod Washburn and Doug Davis.

  • At the same time, it likely emboldens the Angels to go even harder after Roy Halladay, with Lackey off the market. Then again, it might make the Yankees, ever paranoid about the Red Sox, try to one-up them by getting Halladay themselves. The only way I possibly see the Mariners getting seriously involved in Halladay is if they determine they’re not retaining Felix Hernandez, and there are no indications of that.

  • This makes it even less likely that the Red Sox will retain Jason Bay, especially after Bay’s agent rejected their latest offer over the weekend. Then again, the Red Sox have a lot of money, and negotiations such as these can take strange twists and turns.

    The Mets seem willing to out-bid everyone for Bay, perhaps to the tune of a five-year contract, but I just don’t see him as a Mets kind of guy. The Mariners are still in the picture, and it could well come down to how big a concession Bay is willing to make to play in his preferred destination. The Mariners won’t get in a bidding war.

    *Trivia answer: 1996 Orioles, 2000 Mariners, 2001 A’s, 2002 Angels, 2006 Tigers.

    (Seattle Times photo by Rod Mar)

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