Mike Lowell has thought about asking the Red Sox for his release, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com and various other reporters. The Red Sox will be paying most of Lowell's $12MM salary regardless of what the next few weeks bring, but it's time to consider some possible landing spots for the 36-year-old in case Boston trades or releases him. First, let's take stock of Lowell and what he can be expected to contribute.
After offseason thumb surgery and a knee contusion in Spring Training, Lowell's health is far from certain, especially at his age. He posted a .290/.337/.474 line last year and has hit .263/.354/.404 in 65 plate appearances so far in 2010. With one homer and eight walks, his power appears to be waning, but he's still getting on base. As for his defense, Lowell has played just 32 innings at third so far this year. Last year, he posted a UZR/150 of -14.4, which suggests he was – and probably remains – a defensive liability.
The Rangers pursued Lowell last winter, before concerns about his thumb put the deal on hold. With Vladimir Guerrero and Michael Young around, the Rangers appear set at DH and third. First baseman Justin Smoak should hit and Chris Davis and Ryan Garko are around, too, so the Rangers don't seem likely to pursue Lowell again. The Marlins were another rumored destination over the winter, but that was before Gaby Sanchez had proven he could hit in the major leagues.
Earlier in the month, a friend of Lowell's told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Lowell would like to play for the Twins or Angels. The Twins are starting light-hitting Nick Punto, but Punto's a much more reliable choice on defense, according to UZR. Angels third baseman Brandon Wood has endured one of the slowest starts in the majors, so the Halos are one potential match.
Other possible suitors include the Mariners who need offense (but not more fading veterans) and the Orioles, who have no home runs from their first basemen. Lowell seems to fit best in the American League, where he can DH, but there don't appear to be starting jobs out there for him, unless the Orioles or Angels decide they need production now.