MLB News: Chicago Cubs Sign John Lackey

The Chicago Cubs have fortified their rotation by signing veteran starting pitcher John Lackey to a two-year, $32 million contract, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times confirmed that Lackey would be making $16 million in both years of his new deal.

Lackey, 37, is in the twilight of his career based on his age, but his performance in 2015 says otherwise. Pitching for the Cubs’ division rival St. Louis Cardinals, Lackey pitched to a 13-10 record with a 2.77 ERA in 218 innings. While the win-loss record does not stand out, Lackey’s ERA (2.77) was the best he’s posted over the course of a full season in his career. Also, those 218 innings are the second-most he’s totaled over a full season outside of his 2007 season (224.2).

Starting his career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2002, Lackey pitched his team to a World Series win in Game 7 that same season. Thus, Lackey became one of the most reliable starters in the American League. From 2002-2009, Lackey averaged nearly 13 wins, over 200 innings, and a 3.81 ERA for the Angels. His best season came in 2007 when the Abilene, Texas, native went 19-9 with a 3.01 ERA.

Lackey as a member of the Angels. [Image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]

After signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, Lackey’s reputation as a durable and effective starting pitcher took a hit. In his first two seasons, Lackey posted ERAs of 4.40 and 6.41. Then, Lackey underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the 2012 season, causing him to miss the entire campaign.

At the time, Lackey called the procedure “scary” and was adamant that if his arm was injured again, he was going to hang up his cleats for good.

“Trust me, if I have to get another surgery, I’m going home,” Lackey told Jason Mastrodonato of Mass Live. “I’m 35, not 25 like those other guys.”

Returning with a vengeance in 2013, Lackey helped the Red Sox to win their third World Series in the last 10 years. Lackey also became the first pitcher in history to win two World Series-clinching games for two different teams, as mentioned by Joe McDonald of ESPN.

Lackey during Game Six of the 2014 World Series. [Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]

A stark comeback from a player at the forefront of controversy one year prior, stemming from him and other teammates allegedly drinking beer and eating chicken wings during games, via Boston.com.

Lackey articulated his excitement with being a part of the second World Series-winning team of his career.

“It was an awesome opportunity. The guys played great all year and I had an absolute blast playing with this team. We’ve all worked our butt off to get to here and we’re going to have a little bit of fun.”

The Red Sox traded Lackey to the Cardinals at the MLB Trade Deadline in 2014, ending his four-and-a-half year tenure in Beantown. After the trade was made official, Lackey expressed his excitement with the trade to the media.

“Pretty excited, actually,” Lackey told theBoston Globe. “I wasn’t really surprised. Honestly, this is a good place for me to be. I was pretty happy with where it happened. I’m happy with what happened.”

In his one-and-a-half year stint with St. Louis, Lackey amassed a record of 16-13 with a 3.53 ERA while helping lead the Cardinals to two postseasons.

Now, Lackey joins a Cubs team that boasts one of the strongest young nuclei of players in the game. He is expected to slot in as the Cubs’ third starter behind 2015 NL Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta and former Boston teammate Jon Lester.

[Featured Image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]