Update 2:23pm CST – According to Tim Brown, the Cubs “are pretty hot on John Lackey at the moment.” The Cubs are discussing two- and three-year deals with him.
With the cost of starting pitching seemingly going up by the hour, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal, John Lackey “is becoming increasingly attractive to the Cubs.” The front office, Joe Maddon and several of the players, including Jon Lester, have ties to Lackey. And the Cubs could be interested in Lackey on a two-year contract.
The Cubs would have to forfeit its first round draft pick to sign Lackey, but it was believed just a couple of weeks ago that Lackey was looking at a two-year contract for around $30 million.
The veteran right-hander turned 37 in October. Lackey was 13-10 in 33 starts with a 2.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 3.57 FIP. Lackey allowed 71 runs, 67 earned, on 211 hits with 53 walks and 175 strikeouts in 218 innings.
Lackey made 33 starts for the first time since 2010 and the 218 innings was the second most of his career. Lackey completed 215 innings in 2010, the last season in which he finished 200 or more innings in a single season.
The Cubs have also been connected to free agent starters Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake and Scott Kazmir. There is mutual interest in a reunion with Samardzija, but other teams are also in on Samardzija and he may have priced himself out of Chicago.
According to Jayson Stark, the Cubs “remain interested in a reunion with Samardzija, but buzz in the industry is that his price is rising beyond their comfort level.”
Bruce Levine reported Thursday night that the AAV on Samardzija has increased to around $18 million on a five-year contract. While it does not appear Samardzija has a $100 million offer on the table, he does have at least one offer of five years and $90 million. Samardzija, like Lackey, will cost a team its’ first available draft pick.
Mike Leake and Scott Kazmir did not receive qualifying offers because they were traded in-season and are not attached to draft pick compensation.
Ken Rosenthal explained the Cubs made a mistake “with one mid-market pitching investment” in Edwin Jackson and “don’t want to repeat it.”
Once Zack Greinke decides between the Dodgers and Giants and agrees to terms with one of the NL West teams, the second group of free agent starters should start coming off the board.
Stay Tuned …