Derek Lowe Rumors
Having dropped their last five games, the Astros own a .256 winning percentage, easily the worst in baseball. Their new division rivals, the Rangers, are at .632, tied for second in baseball. The two numbers are not unrelated, as the Rangers have won five of six contests against the Astros. The latest on the two Texas clubs:
- The Astros announced yesterday that president and CEO George Postolos resigned. Postolos' role with the Astros had little to do with baseball operations, unlike some other team presidents. Postolos "specializes in franchise acquisition," wrote Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and his skill set no longer matched with the job description. One of Postolos' tasks involved carriage agreement negotiations, trying to get the Astros and Comcast Sportsnet Houston into Houston homes. CSN Houston is available in "only about 40 percent of Houston's 2.2 million TV homes," writes David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.
- Asked on ESPN's Galloway & Company show yesterday if he has any interest in the Astros' new job opening, Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan replied, "I don't think so." Ryan has not been in contact with Astros owner Jim Crane. There was some springtime drama about Ryan's role with the Rangers, which was resolved in April.
- The Astros are running "extended evaluations" at all three outfield positions, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. J.D. Martinez, Robbie Grossman, and Jimmy Paredes will hold the starting spots for now, with Justin Maxwell to regain center field when he returns from a fractured left hand. The Astros have already moved Chris Carter to first base and jettisoned Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez, though Martinez cleared waivers and remains in the organization.
- Carter, a 26-year-old acquired from Oakland in February as part of the Jed Lowrie trade, is tied for fifth in the league with nine home runs. He also leads all of baseball in strikeouts, however.
- 33-year-old Rangers righty Colby Lewis, a free agent after this season, "has been diagnosed with a mild case of tendinitis in his right triceps muscle" according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Lewis last pitched in the Majors on July 18th of last year, before undergoing flexor tendon surgery. His current issue is not related to the surgery, and Lewis could make another rehab start next week after receiving an anti-inflammatory injection.
- Rangers long reliever Derek Lowe told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he didn't pass the "stats test" when hunting for an offseason job, explaining he leans toward the human element. Apparently mixing stats and scouting, as all teams do, Lowe commented, "If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to outscore my stuff, I’m not naive. He’s a young kid who throws 98 mph with a great breaking ball. Listen, I know I don’t pass the test."
Another day, another gem from a Cardinals starter. Adam Wainwright took a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings en route to a complete game, two-hit shutout in St. Louis' 3-0 victory over the Rockies. Wainwright's outing was a day after Shelby Miller's complete game one-hitter against Colorado, in the process tying a Major League record for most consecutive batters retired by one team against another. Between Eric Young's leadoff single on Friday and Todd Helton's fifth-inning walk against Wainwright today, the Rockies sent 40 batters to the plate without success.
Here's some news as we head towards a full slate of Mother's Day baseball...
- The Cardinals' pitching depth was one reason they were comfortable letting Kyle Lohse leave in the offseason, the latest case of the Cards saving money and still contending thanks to their constant supply of young talent, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “I would say it this way: you don’t want to have a situation where you can’t re-sign your best talent, long term, but there are times when you have to pick and choose where you want to invest it," St. Louis GM John Mozeliak said. "Our model has been, if possible, to have that flexibility within our payroll allocation without going too long and deep.”
- Paul Goldschmidt is hearing unanimous praise from scouts and is being compared to some of the game's elite hitters, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Goldschmidt took a .977 OPS into Saturday's game, and as Piecoro notes, the Diamondbacks' five-year, $32MM extension (with an option on a sixth year) with their first baseman is looking like a major bargain.
- Also from Piecoro, he hears from Justin Upton and Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers that neither side has hard feelings about the big trade that sent Upton to the Braves in January. It has particularly worked out for Upton, who is enjoying an MVP-caliber season for NL East-leading Atlanta.
- Padres backup catcher John Baker could be expendable once Yasmani Grandal returns from his PED suspension. Baker tells Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he enjoys playing with the Padres but is prepared for whatever happens.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
- Advanced statistics are taken with a grain of salt by many players, including several in the Rangers clubhouse, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Derek Lowe, for one, believes his unimpressive peripheral stats were part of the reason why it took him until March to find a contract with a team. Texas, unlike several Major League clubs, doesn't have a full-time statistical analysis department in their front office though the club uses sabermetrics as part of their player evaluation process.
Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).
- Miguel Olivo has been offered the $100k retention bonus and is still deciding whether to accept it, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Austin Kearns and Casey Kotchman made the Marlins' 25-man roster, according to the team.
- Mets reliever Tim Byrdak will report to the minors and take the $100K retention bonus, MLBTR has learned. Byrdak is returning from August shoulder surgery.
- The Rangers told Derek Lowe that he has made the team as a reliever, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- Chad Gaudin's contract was purchased and added to the Giants' roster, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.
- Chad Qualls made the Marlins' bullpen, MLBTR has learned.
- With Brandon Gomes being optioned to Triple-A, it looks like reliever Jamey Wright has made the Rays, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. The Rays have told both Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo they will be added to the roster, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Oviedo had Tommy John surgery in September, so I imagine he'll land on the 60-day disabled list.
- The Pirates have committed to keeping Brandon Inge on the roster, tweets Sanserino, though he may start the season on the DL after being hit by a pitch.
- Reliever Pedro Feliciano accepted a minor league assignment from the Mets, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday, so he'll snag the $100K retention bonus.
- Jonathan Sanchez made the Pirates' rotation, tweets Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 30-year-old posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.11 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings this spring, but the Pirates saw something they liked.
- Lyle Overbay and Aaron Cook were released by their respective teams today.
8:39pm: Lowe will earn $1.25MM if he makes the big league roster, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). He can also earn an additional $1.7MM in performance bonuses, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
6:26pm: The Rangers have agreed to terms with Derek Lowe on a minor league deal, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). The right-hander is represented by Scott Boras, as shown in MLBTR's Agency Database. While Lowe is not guaranteed anything, he will almost certainly make the team, according to Grant.
Lowe, 39, spent 2012 with the Indians and Yankees, making 21 starts in Cleveland and 17 appearances out of the pen for New York. While the veteran has stated his preference for being in the rotation in the past, the Rangers plan to use him as a reliever. In total, Lowe posted a 5.11 ERA with 3.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 across 142 2/3 innings of work.
The 6'6" hurler had interest from other clubs this offseason and received a minor league offer from the Rockies more than a month ago.
4:42pm: The Rangers view Lowe as a candidate for the bullpen, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports. Presumably this deal won't affect the Rangers' interest in Lohse.
2:41pm: The Rangers are on the verge of signing right-hander Derek Lowe to a minor league deal, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). Lowe, 39, is represented by Scott Boras.
Lowe spent 2012 with the Indians and Yankees, making 21 starts in Cleveland and 17 appearances out of the pen for New York. In total, Lowe posted a 5.11 ERA with 3.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 across 142 2/3 innings of work. The veteran could provide Texas with pitching depth in the wake of Martin Perez's forearm injury.
Recently, we learned that the Rangers are still talking with Boras about another one of his prominent clients, Kyle Lohse. However, that pairing doesn't appear to be imminent at the moment and the Rangers may have decided on a less costly support option in Lowe.
Lowe had interest elsewhere and received a minor league offer from the Rockies more than a month ago.
The newest member of the Rays organization, Kelly Johnson, spoke with reporters on a conference call earlier today about his signing with Tampa Bay. The veteran second baseman/outfielder said he respected the Rays way of playing baseball under manager Joe Maddon, which made joining the franchise an easy decision. "I wasn't surprised they were interested. I knew if I wanted to go to Tampa I had to be willing to move around. They called and I was happy hear from them."
Here is what's happening around the league...
- Scott Boras denied his involvement with the planting of a rumor about his client Jose Valverde and an imminent deal with the Marlins, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Mychal Givens will no longer play shortstop in the minors for the Orioles, but rather try his hand at pitching, writes Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty has yet to hear any updates from Scott Rolen while he remains at a stalemate with his four remaining arbitration-eligible players, says Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
- Francisco Liriano's deal with the Pirates remains on track to become official, but will not do so until his non-throwing arm heals so the veteran can take a physical, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Derek Lowe will wait to see what other offers come his way after passing on a minor league deal from the Rockies, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
- Though the Rockies continue looking for starting pitching, they aren’t close to signing Carl Pavano or Derek Lowe, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. Renck reported earlier this week that the Rockies were pursuing the free agent right-handers aggressively.
- The Rockies would love to sign free agent catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a minor league deal, Renck reports. The veteran backstop played for the Rangers, Brewers and Blue Jays in 2012.
- The Yankees discussed Delmon Young internally, but didn’t have great reports on his performance, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Phillies signed Young to a one-year contract yesterday.
- Vernon Wells could spend much of the coming season on the Angels’ bench, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. Wells is unlikely to be traded, yet he doesn’t project as a regular. Though the Angels explored deals involving Wells, owner Arte Moreno was never willing to absorb a substantial part of the $42MM remaining on Wells’ contract to complete a trade. Naturally other teams weren’t interested in paying Wells $21MM per season through 2014.
The Rockies signed Chris Volstad yesterday, but that’s not stopping them from going after more veteran pitching. The club is “aggressively pursuing” free agent right-handers Carl Pavano and Derek Lowe, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. The Rockies would like to complete another deal this week.
Lowe, a 39-year-old client of the Boras Corporation, posted a 5.11 ERA with 3.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 142 2/3 innings for the Indians and Yankees this past season. He has drawn interest from multiple teams as a free agent. Pavano, 37, has drawn interest from the Mets, Twins and Marlins this winter. The Dave Pepe client posted a 6.00 ERA in 63 innings for the Twins in 2012, spending considerable time on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.
The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB...
- Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
- Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
- The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
- Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
- Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
- Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
- The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.
The Rockies have expressed "mild interest" in Jeff Karstens, reports Troy Renck of The Denver Post. Renck reiterates that the team also has some interest in Brandon Webb, plus they remain open to trades for pitching. They have not had conversations about free agents Derek Lowe or Aaron Cook, however.
The Pirates non-tendered Karstens in November rather than pay the 30-year-old right-hander a projected $3.8MM salary in 2013. He pitched to a 3.97 ERA with a 36.8% ground ball rate in 90 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season while missing time with shoulder and hip problems. Karstens posted a 3.38 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and a 46.2% ground ball rate in 162 2/3 innings in 2011.
The Rockies have been on the hunt for pitching this offseason after their staff produced an MLB-worst 5.22 ERA in 2012. So far this offseason they've re-signed Jeff Francis while trading for Wilton Lopez, though they've been connected to a number of free agents as well. Francis, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, and Juan Nicasio represent Colorado's returning starters.