John Lackey, St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Salary: $507,500
After several years of mediocre pitching, Lackey experienced a career revival at the age of 36. In his first full season with the Cardinals, Lackey went 13-10 with the best ERA of his career — 2.77. Lackey pitched over 200 innings for the first time since 2010. Lackey’s FIP of 3.57 was his best since 2007. When Adam Wainwright went down, Lackey stepped up big time to make sure the St. Louis rotation did not miss a beat.
Lackey turned 37 on October 23. He is due for a big raise after pitching for the veteran’s minimum last year. At this age, Lackey may be better off going year-to-year. A two-year deal is unlikely to pay him an average annual salary of nearly $16 million, but it would come with the added certainty of a 2017 season. While it’s unlikely Lackey will be the first player to take the qualifying offer, he should consider it at this point in his career. One way or another, expect Lackey back with the Cardinals in 2016.