Chicago Cubs: John Lackey not ready to call it quits just yet
By Jake Misener
Despite entering his age-38 season, Chicago Cubs’ veteran right-hander John Lackey isn’t set to call 2017 his last go-round at the big league level.
Entering the final season of his two-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, most believed that 2017 would be John Lackey’s last crack at Major League Baseball. But, based on recent comments, the right-hander might try to push on past his age-38 campaign.
"“At this point, I think I’m more likely to pitch next year than not pitch,” Lackey told CSN Chicago. “But we’ll see at the end of the season.”"
Last season, Lackey played an integral role in the Cubs winning their first championship in 108 years. Despite missing time late in the year with an injury, he still won 11 games and gave Joe Maddon just under 190 innings of work.
The big right-hander has made at least 27 starts per season, dating back to 2007 with the Angels, when he made only 24. Over that near-decade of work, he’s pitched to a sub-4.00 ERA, eating up over 1,500 innings in the process.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
He’s clearly not the pitcher he was in 2007, when he finished third in American League Cy Young voting. That year, he won 19 games with a league-best 3.01 ERA and league-leading two shutouts.
Still, in 2015, the year before he came to Chicago, Lackey showed that he’s adapted as a pitcher, finishing in the top 10 in National League Cy Young voting after a resurgent season with the St. Louis Cardinals.
As for the Cubs, Lackey represents something this team could lack sorely after this season: quality pitching depth.
Murky waters for Cubs’ staff in the near future
Past 2017, Chicago only has two legitimate, proven starting pitchers under team control: Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks. Both 2015 National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and Lackey are entering the final years of their respective deals, leaving more questions than answers when looking ahead.
Arrieta is said to be seeking a deal north of $200 million; according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, he believes he could pitch effectively until he’s 40. This suggests a shorter-term, higher AAV deal may not suit him next winter.
If he walks, the Cubs need an answer. Arrieta, Lester and Hendricks formed an effective thee-headed monster last season, which played a big part in the team’s postseason success.
Bringing back Lackey on a one-year deal could be a possible solution.
"“It’s not a decision that you make right now,” said Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer. “But certainly we love having him. I think his edge, his swagger is fantastic for our team. And we’re certainly glad that we signed him last winter.”"
Next: Season starts and ends with Cubs' rotation success
The grizzled veteran is known for his fiery competitive nature. His leadership loomed large last year on one of the youngest teams in all of Major League Baseball. He told the baseball world last spring he wanted jewelry – and he got it in Chicago. The Cubs may be his best shot at getting some more before retiring.