John Lackey will not be retiring and wants to play another year. This gives the Milwaukee Brewers something to think about this offseason.
At 39, Lackey has much more of a past than a future. While I admit that is not ideal, and not what the Milwaukee Brewers usually look for, it could be just what the doctor ordered from a free agent.
With Jimmy Nelson due to miss a portion of the season, a discounted veteran on a one year contract starts to make a little bit of sense. Lackey can fill in the middle or back end of the rotation and compete. He can still eat a lot of innings, and give his team a chance to win every time out.
MLB Trade Rumors picked up from a Jon Heyman Tweet that Lackey is not going to call it quits. They do say that the Chicago Cubs may want to try and get him at a discount. But, that discount could go around the league as well. So if the price is right, Lackey could be a solid veteran addition to an otherwise young pitching staff.
Lackey has been pitching in the NL Central since 2014, going 53-43 in his tenure with both the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. His fastball did regress slightly in 2017, averaging slightly over 90 MPH, but he still posted 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Despite a rough start to his 38 year old campaign, he finished strong. The second half of the year showed a 3.75 ERA along with a 7-3 record. His veteran presence showing through strongly down the stretch in September where opposing teams hit a pedestrian .180 off of him.
The biggest downfall for Lackey in 2017 was the homers per nine numbers which soared to almost two. However, calling Wrigley Field home leaves pitcher susceptible to that kind of thing. ESPN shows Wrigley as fifth in park factor for giving up runs. Miller Park is eighth for the previous season. While only slightly better, it could help.
As far as solidifying the back end of a rotation, the Milwaukee Brewers might be hard pressed to find a better option than Lackey. The veteran presence he brings is worth more than what he could do on the field. This team wants to be in the postseason. Well, look at Lackey’s October resume. He has pitched in 10 different playoffs and boasts three World Series rings. That type of leadership will do wonders for a young team trying to find it’s way.
As crazy as it sounds, Lackey could make a huge difference on the young Crew. Not only can he still compete, he will be a mentor figure on a youthful, yet talented, pitching staff. And at his age, he works as a good placeholder for Nelson. I think David Stearns would be crazy not to offer a one year deal to Lackey.