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Red Sox trade John Lackey to Cardinals for Joe Kelly, Allen Craig

John Lackey has been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox have agreed to a trade that will send John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig. Jon Heyman had the news of the trade first, with Peter Gammons providing the details on the return. The Red Sox will also send minor leaguer Corey Littrell and cash to the Cardinals.

The Cardinals already made a move to acquire Justin Masterson yesterday Wednesday, but given the lackluster performance of the Red Sox-turned-Indian-turned-Cardinal, there was every possibility that St. Louis was still in the market for more starting pitching help, perhaps intending to move Shelby Miller after the fact.

Lackey's name had been floated as a possible trade candidate ever since he suggested he might retire rather than pitch for the league minimum in 2015. The Red Sox held a team option on him at that bargain price which activated when he missed all of 2012 following Tommy John Surgery. Jared Carrabis also reported yesterday that the veteran righty had asked to be traded, likely due to the Red Sox' decision to trade his personal friend Jon Lester.

Craig and Kelly represent an interesting package of previously successful players that hadn't lived up to expectations in 2014. Kelly, 26, is coming off of a season which saw him throw 124 innings of 2.69 ERA ball, but has struggled since returning from a lengthy stint on the disabled list in early July. His peripherals aren't fantastic--he has a career 6.06 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9--but he induced a lot of ground balls and certainly has a history of success at a young age.

Craig, meanwhile, is coming off three strong offensive seasons, but has struggled to stay healthy, and has managed to hit just .237/.291/.346 in 398 plate appearances in 2014. Still, there's a lot of bat there to be found if Crag can return to 2013 form, when he produced a 134 wRC+ with the Cardinals. He's a defensive liability, and frankly the Red Sox don't really have anywhere to put him at the moment. It will be interesting to see how they find room for all their new acquisitions. Another trade may be imminent.

Craig is signed to a multi-year deal, and owed $25 million over the next three seasons with a $13 million team option for 2018. Joe Kelly is under team control until after 2018 as well.