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Sources: Cardinals acquire John Lackey from Red Sox

Tim Brown
Yahoo Sports
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Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, June 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hours after trading ace Jon Lester to the Oakland A’s, the Boston Red Sox sent right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals and, sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Thursday, added two more major-league pieces: starting pitcher Joe Kelly and first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig.

With the trade, the Red Sox got on with the reality of their last-place standing and their roster makeover, having earlier in the day added A’s slugger Yoenis Cespedes in the Lester deal. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, third in the NL Central, acquired two starting pitchers – Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday and Lackey on Thursday – inside 24 hours.

The Red Sox are sending minor league left-hander Corey Littrell, a 2013 draft pick, and $1.75 million to the Cardinals, as well.

Lackey was 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA in 21 starts with the Red Sox. He is due the remainder of $15.25 million this season – about $5 million – and, because he missed the 2012 season after elbow surgery, is under contract next season for the major-league minimum salary. He immediately will fill a rotation spot for the Cardinals, whose charmed pitching staff has sagged under injuries and underperformance, alongside Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Masterson.

Kelly, 26, had a 4.37 ERA in seven starts for the Cardinals. The inclusion of Craig in the trade came as something of a surprise, as Craig, 30, batted .315 in 2013, though he has struggled in 2014, batting only .237.

The Cardinals are thick with outfield prospects, Oscar Taveras among them. Trading Craig – and addressing issues in the pitching staff – would help clear room for those prospects.

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