According to an article by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, a recent survey polled 20 MLB executives (general managers, assistant GMs, etc.) on a number of topics, including where they believe free agent pitcher John Lackey will sign. They also revealed their thoughts on the possible length and dollar amount of his contract.
Of the 20 executives who were polled, the majority believe his new area code will be 718. However, will that be in the Bronx or in Queens?
Only three executives believe he will return to the Angels, while four think the Mets will sign him and eight believe the Yankees will buy him at wholesale price.
Lackey is originally from Abilene, TX. That makes it quite surprising that the Rangers and Astros weren’t seen as potential suitors for his services.
As for the years and dollars being bandied about, the executives believe that it could take as little as three years and $36 million (although this was an anonymous poll, I’ll bet you Oliver Perez’s sombrero that I know which GM thought Lackey would find that deal to be reasonable. Ollie’s Money Ain’t Reasonable!)
Other GMs thought it would take as much as six years and $100 million to sign Lackey. I don’t think the Mets would go that high for Lackey as far as years go. I do believe they would sign him for that average annual value. They’d probably have to offer a minimum of four years and quite possibly five to get Lackey to come to Flushing.
It may take an A.J. Burnett-type deal (five years, $82 million), but Lackey is worth it. He is as consistent as they come and he will be coming to the National League, where he will not have to face a DH. Although he has begun each of the past two seasons on the DL, he has recovered well from each injury.
Of course, his intangibles also make him an attractive commodity. He is a fierce competitor and his tenacity on the mound is matched by few. One pitcher who could match his grit and determination is Johan Santana. Imagine if Santana and Lackey were able to start 40% of the games in 2010. The Phillies would have to pray for more three-run homers because they surely wouldn’t be able to match that one-two punch on the mound.
If executives think John Lackey will be a New Yorker next year, Omar has to go all out for him the way he went all out for Johan Santana. He can’t let the Yankees scoop him up. They added an ace and a solid #2 pitcher last year in CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and they helped lead the team to a World Championship.
If Sabathia could be swayed to sign with the Yankees instead of with a team in his home state of California, then why can’t the Mets do the same with Lackey? He is a native Texan, but if Omar can pony up the cash for this stud, he must rope him in.
Lackey would have to change his uniform number (his #41 is kind of reserved for a wine connoisseur. I think his initials are GTS.), but perhaps with a few extra numbers on his contract, he can put a new one on his back.
Now pitching for the New York Mets, John Lackey! I expect to hear that at Citi Field in 2010 and in the years following next season. Are you listening, Omar? You better be if you want to be at Citi Field in the years following 2010 as well.