It's the burning question around Red Sox Nation these days: Did John Lackey want out of Boston and ask to be traded?
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington didn't answer directly when he joined WEEI's "Dennis & Callahan" show this morning. But maybe by not answering, he did sort of tell us something.
"Most of what led to [the trade] is that he's a really good pitcher, and he's on a unique contract and that made him valuable to a team like the Cardinals who understand that value, understand having a guy who is capable of pitching like that and making the minimum next year is a valuable guy to have," Cherington said. "We wouldn't have traded both Lester and Lackey without getting A) major league talent back and B) at least one major league player back, so that was just the standard. We're always getting new information and you get new information every day so I think John is happy where he is, we wish him well, he did great things for us, certainly toward the end of the deal and he was on the mound for clinching the World Series game."
Cherington was asked specifically if Lackey wanted to leave Boston.
"Look, I'm not going to get into every conversation I had with John Lackey," Cherington said. "I think he did a lot for the Red Sox and I think he's happy where he is now."
Even before Lackey was dealt to the Cardinals, rumors swirled that he wanted out of Boston and may consider retiring rather than play for the $500,000 major league minimum outlined in his contract due to him missing all of the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Lackey assured St. Louis that he would honor his current contract and play for the minimum next year. Naturally, reports that he was unhappy in Boston picked up steam.
When asked in St. Louis Tuesday if he would have done the same had he remained with the Red Sox, Lackey did not want to get into it.
"I don't know about that honestly," Lackey said. "I didn't get that far ahead to think about it at that point... You guys are trying to stir stuff up."
Cherington also addressed the issue of acquiring an ace to make up for the loss of two top-tier starters in the rotation.
"Of course any team would benefit from having a true No. 1 starter at the top of the rotation," Cherington said. "We would and any team would so that's the desirable thing but I just don't think you can set out to only pursue that, we have to build a 25-man team that wins games ... If you look across baseball and sort of pick out who, the starting pitchers that are performing like that this year, there are some that have been doing it for a little while and are recognizable names and there are others who aren't recognizable names a couple years ago, even a year ago. So we don't always know where those aces come from and who knows? Maybe we have one of those guys in the organization somewhere, and time will tell. Of course, we're better off if we have a true No. 1 starter but what we're trying to do first is just build the best team we can and win as many games as we can."