Make that two eye-popping trades in one day for the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox traded starting pitcher John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday in exchange for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig, according to multiple reports.
UPDATE (1:57 p.m.): The Red Sox have confirmed the report and added that the team also will send minor league left-hander Corey Littrell and cash considerations to St. Louis as part of the trade.
After a rough start to his Red Sox tenure, Lackey developed into one of the team’s most consistent arms. The big right-hander led all Red Sox starters with a 3.60 ERA in 2013 and ranked second behind Lester with a 3.60 ERA through 21 starts this season.
Coming back to Boston are two of the Red Sox’s opponents from last year’s World Series.
Craig, a 2013 All-Star, was hobbled by a foot injury during that series but played in all six games, scoring the winning run in Game 3 on the infamous Will Middlebrooks “obstruction” call. The 30-year-old is in the midst of a down year at the plate, hitting .237 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs through 97 games.
Kelly, who split time between the bullpen and rotation in 2013, spent all of May and June on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. He’s appeared in just seven games this season (all starts), posting a 2-2 record with a 4.27 ERA. He’s struggled since coming off the DL earlier this month, allowing four or more earned runs in three of his four starts.
News of the reported trade broke just hours after the Red Sox sent Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland A’s in a blockbuster deal for power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
With Lackey, Lester, Felix Doubront (traded to the Chicago Cubs) and Jake Peavy (dealt to the San Francisco Giants) all now gone, Clay Buchholz is the lone pitcher remaining from the Red Sox’s season-opening starting rotation.