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Indians rumors: John Lackey of the Red Sox is a trade target

This would be one way to plug the hole created by Masterson's departure...

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians are reportedly interested in Red Sox starter John Lackeyaccording to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi.

Lackey, a 35-year-old righty, would fill the spot in the Tribe starting rotation created by today's trade that sent Justin Masterson to the Cardinals in exchange for outfield prospect James Ramsey. Lackey has a solid 3.60 ERA in 137.1 innings this season, with peripherals (strikeout rate, walk rate, etc.) to match it. He's pitched better than anyone the Indians have except for Corey Kluber this season, and so he would certainly be an upgrade, and most likely a better option than keeping Masterson.

Lackey is supposed to be in his final year before reaching free agency, but a clause in his contract calls for 2015 to be a tam option because of the Tommy John surgery that put Lackey out for the entire 2012 season. Whatever team has Lackey holds a team option for just $500K next year, which is a major bargain, even if he's just an average starting pitcher.

That said, I can't see him actually pitching at that salary. Yes, he agreed to the contract, but he'll push hard for an extension, and possibly even retire, if not given more money. On the open market, he'd likely receive $12 million or so a season on a multiyear deal, but his current status hurts his leverage, and so he might agree to play for less than that.

Given that he can be counted on for solid production down the stretch and is probably available at a below market salary for a couple years beyond this one, he'd be a nice addition for any team looking to add a starter. If the Indians could move someone like Tyler Naquin for him, I'd jump at it, because Ramsey seems like a small upgrade on Naquin, and Lackey would be an upgrade on Masterson.

I suspect it will take more than that though. Morosi reports that the Royals were interested, but balked at the high asking price. Given that Kansas City is likely more desperate to win this year than the Indians, it's hard to imagine the Tribe front office paying a price Dayton Moore refuses.

My guess is nothing happens here, but I'd be very intrigued to know what kind of return package Boston is looking for, because Lackey would be a nice addition (even though rooting for him would take some getting used to).