Having cleared all the necessarily paperwork-and-physical hurdles, today the Chicago Cubs announced that they’ve officially signed John Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal.
Lackey slides into the Cubs’ rotation coming off of three-straight very solid post-Tommy John surgery seasons. Although he’ll pitch next year at age 37, he remains a decent bet to be successful for the Cubs. And, of course, if he isn’t, the Cubs haven’t burdened themselves with a long-term deal.
Your one downside, of course, is that Lackey costs the Cubs their first rounder in the 2016 draft (28th overall).
By signing Lackey relatively early in the second-tier pitching process, the Cubs have been able to more confidently sit back and entertain trade options for a younger, cost-controlled starter. Further, they can explore their positional options in free agency knowing that they didn’t break the bank on pitching.
In short: I liked the deal when it was reported, and I still like it now that it’s official. The Cubs’ 40-man roster will be at 39 when Lackey and Trevor Cahill are added.
UPDATE: I’m hearing Lackey got some no-trade protection in the deal, which is atypical for this front office (you’ll recall that Jon Lester got a no-trade clause, but that was the exception, rather than the rule). Given that it’s just a two-year deal for Lackey anyway, no-trade rights are less of a concern. And if it helped the Cubs bring in Lackey on a reasonable deal, then so be it.