Part of the reason why the Cardinals acquired John Lackey from the Red Sox on July 31 is that his contract included an uncommon $500,000 option for 2015 thanks to his previously missing time following Tommy John elbow surgery.
Today the Cardinals made the no-brainer move of exercising that option, bringing back Lackey for the league minimum salary following a season in which he threw 198 innings with a 3.82 ERA.
Lackey was mediocre after the trade, starting 10 games for St. Louis with a 4.30 ERA and 48/15 K/BB ratio in 61 innings, but the 36-year-old will slot into the middle of the rotation for next season.
Another big free agent domino has fallen at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is signing with the Angels on seven-year, $245 million contract, per Jon Heyman.
Rendon, 29, was the top free agent position player. He’s coming off of a season in which he helped the Nationals win their first championship, batting .319/.412/.598 with a league-high 126 RBI and an NL-best 44 doubles along with 34 home runs and 117 runs scored in 646 plate appearances. Rendon also continued to play solid defense at third base. During the postseason, Rendon hit .328/.412/.590 with seven doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 75 trips to the plate.
The Angels badly needed to make a big free agent splash this offseason, and third base was as good a place as any to do it. Rendon will now slot easily into the middle of the Angels’ lineup along with Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels are done making moves, but they could use a corner outfielder and another starting pitcher.
Humorously, Rendon has said he’d like to retire by age 35, as Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post alluded to on the Nationals Talk Podcast. This contract will take him through his age-36 season.