Cardinals exercise option to bring back Lackey

Veteran right-hander to earn league minimum next season

Cardinals exercise option to bring back Lackey

ST. LOUIS -- In what was merely a formality, the Cardinals exercised their team option on right-handed starter John Lackey for 2015. The organization's decision to retain Lackey for another season was never in question.

In fact, one of the reasons that Lackey was so attractive to the Cardinals at the Trade Deadline is because the Cardinals would inherit a contract that included the team-friendly provision that locked Lackey in to earn the Major League minimum in 2015 if he missed significant time due to injury during his five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox.

Lackey ended up sitting out the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

After being traded to the Cardinals in July, Lackey confirmed that he would honor the final year of his contract, even though he will make just slightly higher than $500,000 in 2015. He has already earned more than $100 million over his 12-year Major League career.

The Cardinals acquired Lackey, 36, in a Trade Deadline deal that sent Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to the Red Sox. The veteran right-hander made 10 regular-season and two postseason starts for the Cardinals, combining to go 4-3 with a 4.15 ERA.

While the Cardinals had five other players -- Jason Motte, Pat Neshek, Mark Ellis, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson -- officially join the free-agent market on Thursday, the organization had no other contractual team options to weigh.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.