No details of the visit have been revealed by the Red Sox, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that John Lackey recently met with Dr. Lewis Yocum in California to have his right elbow examined.
According to Bradford’s sources the Red Sox expect to have a “final resolution” by the end of this week, which suggests surgery is an option for Lackey.
Lackey is owed $15.25 million in each of the next three seasons and there’s an option for 2015 that triggers at the MLB minimum salary if he needs elbow surgery.
Having him around for another season, even at the league minimum, may not sound like a positive thing for the Red Sox, but as Bradford notes the extra year being tacked onto the current contract would change the annual value of the deal and allow the team to spread out his luxury tax figure.
In other words, Lackey having elbow surgery would knock him out for 2012 and put his career in flux, but it would also save the Red Sox some money. And obviously finding out that he has significant elbow damage would help explain Lackey’s decline. His average fastball velocity this season matched a career-high at 91.6 miles per hour, but Lackey’s strikeout and walk rates were both far worse than his career norms.