The Red Sox continued to remake their roster on Thursday, sending No. 2 starter John Lackey, a minor leaguer and $1.75 million to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig and righthander Joe Kelly.
It was their second big deal of the trade deadline day. The Red Sox have traded their top two starters, Lackey and ace Jon Lester, and remade the lineup of what was a weak-hitting team by adding Yoenis Cespedes and Craig.
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The 30-year-old Craig has played primarily right field and first base on his career. He is having a down season, hitting .237 with seven homers and 44 RBI for the Cardinals. But Craig hit .312 with an .864 OPS and 46 home runs from 2011-13.
Craig is signed through 2017 with a team option for $13 million or a $1 million buyout for 2018. He is owed $25.5 million from 2015-18.
Kelly, 26, is 2-2 with a 4.37 earned run average in seven starts. He is 17-14 with a 3.25 ERA in 68 career games, 38 of them starts. He was on the disabled list much of this season with a left hamstring strain.
Lackey ends what was a tumultuous five seasons in Boston. The righthander was signed to a five-year, $82.5 million deal before the 2010 season. He was 26-23 with a 5.32 ERA over the first two seasons, pitching with an injured elbow for much of the 2011 season.
Lackey missed the 2012 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He is 21-20 with a 3.55 ERA since over 50 starts including 11-7, 3.60 this season.
Lackey had a 2.77 ERA in five playoff appearances last season, going 3-1. He won the deciding game of the World Series, holding the Cardinals to one run over 6⅔ innings. Now he joins the Cardinals, who are fighting for a playoff berth in the National League.
Lackey was seen as a likely candidate to be dealt because his contract is appealing. While owed the balance of his $15.25 million salary this year, next year his contract has a club option for just $500,000.
His 2015 salary was triggered by a clause in his contract that stipulated he play for that amount if something like Tommy John elbow surgery would sideline him for a significant time at any point during his stay in Boston. Sitting out the 2012 season triggered that clause.
Lackey has told the Cardinals he will honor his contract, although the sides working out an extension is also possible.
The Red Sox also sent Single A lefthander Corey Litrell to the Cardinals.
The Red Sox may have other moves to make. Adding two outfielders creates a roster jam that includes Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Shane Victorino.
The Red Sox also need a starter to replace Lackey in the rotation. At least temporarily, that could be Triple A righthander Anthony Ranaudo.
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