With money to spend, and torn between two corner outfielders they liked but didn't love, the Red Sox took the baseball industry by surprise Monday.
They picked up another ace.
Former Angel John Lackey flew to Boston Monday to undergo a physical after agreeing to terms on a five-year deal for about $85 million, an industry source confirmed. AOL Fanhouse first reported that the Red Sox and Lackey were closing in on a deal, and SI.com first reported the terms.
The Lackey signing represents a clear strategy by the Red Sox to emphasize pitching and defense. Their own leftfielder, Jason Bay, is a free agent, and he and Matt Holliday served as two of this market's "Big Three" free agents, along with Lackey.
But the Red Sox held concerns about Bay's defense, and they offered him a four-year, $60-million deal that Bay turned down. The Red Sox like Holliday, but they didn't value him so much as to pay the six years and $23 million per season sought by Holliday and his agent, Scott Boras.
In conjunction with the Red Sox's decision to make Lackey their big buy, Boston reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract for $7 million to $8 million annually with outfielder Mike Cameron, according to a person familiar with those negotiations. That deal is subject to a physical, the person said.
Cameron would further strengthen the team defensively whether he played centerfield or leftfield (alongside Jacoby Ellsbury). The Red Sox also have agreed to trade third baseman Mike Lowell to Texas, pending the Rangers' approval, and want to sign free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre to replace Lowell.
Once Lackey passes his physical, the Red Sox's rotation will feature Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and veteran Tim Wakefield, in addition to Lackey. It's a rotation that on paper is superior to the Yankees', whereas the Yankees figure to field a superior everyday lineup to Boston's.
The righthanded Lackey, 31, put up a 102-71 record and 3.81 ERA in eight seasons with the Angels, earning a reputation as a "horse" who wants the ball in the big moments. He won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie and had a 2.29 ERA in three postseason starts in 2009.