John Lackey has been swallowed by this year’s slow-moving free-agency market.
With the league’s top-four free-agent pitchers — Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb — remaining unsigned, Lackey has fallen off the radar.
At the end of last season, it was unclear if the Cubs right-hander would enter retirement or try his luck in the free-agency market. Jon Lester hinted the end was near for Lackey when he gave an emotional clubhouse tribute after the Cubs clinched the National League Central in St. Louis.
“One of the best teammates, one of the best people, I ever got to play with,” Lester said before embracing Lackey.
The 39-year-old grizzled veteran with 15 years of MLB experience under his belt remained publicly undecided and quiet on whether he planned to retire during the Cubs’ two-round playoff run.
But in November, Jon Heyman of Fanragsports.com reported that Lackey had decided to pitch in 2018 after all.
But Lackey’s MLB future isn’t looking too bright especially after his rough 2017 season.
Lackey went 12-12 with a 4.59 ERA in 30 starts and a relief appearance, and he was most notably not a member of the Cubs’ postseason rotation. Lackey had a 9.82 ERA in his final three appearances in a Cubs uniform, which took place during the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers.
This market hasn’t been too kind to many.
Darvish, Arrieta, Lynn and Cobb are the best that remain. The four have appeared in a combined 41 playoff games. Lackey has the sixth-most playoff starts with 23 and has appeared in 30 postseason games.
Hypothetically, those four starting pitchers could create a solid rotation with Lackey anchoring the fifth spot, but that’s not what teams are looking for. With more than 10 teams in the process of rebuilding and trying to bolster their prospect pool, teams aren’t looking to sign major talent that could have an immediate impact — they’re looking to the future.
This hurts older players like Lackey, whose value diminished last season.
So, where in the world is Lackey?
He’s doing just about what anyone else would do during his time off, spending time at the golf course and with his family.
While he appears to be staying in shape, Lackey has laid low. The only glimpse into Lackey’s life we have are the updates from his wife, Kristina Lackey, on social media.