John Lackey Threatening Retirement Is Bush League

By Steve Buchanan
John Lackey
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When starting pitcher John Lackey agreed to the five-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, an intriguing clause was embedded into that deal. It states that if Lackey missed a full year due to an elbow injury, the Red Sox could pick up a team option that would pay him the league minimum in salary. That’s an absolute bargain of a deal the Red Sox, or any team, would pick up. However, reports are coming out that Lackey would consider retiring instead of coming back next year and playing for the minimum. Wait, what?

The Red Sox would undoubtedly pick up the option on Lackey at the end of the year to play for the $265,000 minimum; it’s a no brainer. There’s no chance in the world any team could sign a quality pitcher like Lackey to that kind of contract. But now these reports come out, and the old John Lackey I hated is starting to creep back.

Just who, John Lackey, do you think you are? If I’m not mistaken, you agreed to this contact. Not anyone else. Your name is the one that dried on the dotted line. No one else’s. You were the one who assumed the risk of this option. So now, because it doesn’t satisfy your liking, you’re going to ride off into the sunset and leave that money, and the needs of the Red Sox, out to dry? Cry me a river.

The timing of these reports are not a coincidence, either; the trade deadline is fast approaching. The Red Sox are just coming off another losing streak and the time to figure out if they’re buyers or sellers this year is approaching.

If the Red Sox were to fall out of contention, Lackey’s name would certainly be thrown around in trade rumors. Add the fact that teams could have him for the minimum once again and his contract look like pure gold. So, Lackey is using this whole retirement angle as leverage. He’s basically saying, “If you trade for me, I want this option torn up and we’ll work out something else.” This is so bush league that it makes me sick.

Name me a profession where you can just waltz into your superior’s office and claim, “Well, I know we came to an agreement on my contract, but I don’t like it anymore. So either give me what I want or I’m walking.” Did you come up with a legitimate answer? I doubt it.

Lackey needs to be held accountable for what he agreed on and pitch for that option. The Red Sox gave him a generous contract, in my opinion. Lackey has given them quality starts, but also missed a year due to injury. Don’t forget: he still got paid for that year. He should be more than willing to honor his contract.

In a time when the Red Sox continue to struggle with finding their character, Boston doesn’t need this distraction of Lackey and the unhappiness with his contract. You signed it, Lackey. Now you honor it. Sorry your elbow didn’t hold up. But I’m sure you didn’t mind collecting those paychecks while you hung around and got to watch the games. I’d take that contract any day.

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