Jed Lowrie Rumors

Teams Calling On Bud Norris

Teams are calling the Astros on Bud Norris, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, and Houston is listening.  The Royals reached out to the Astros on Norris, and they've also got interest in free agent Shaun Marcum, writes Passan.

As a first time arbitration eligible player, the inconsistent Norris is under team control for three more years and projects to earn $2.9MM in 2013.  Norris, 28 in March, posted a 4.65 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.23 HR/9, and 39.2% groundball rate in 168 1/3 innings this year, struggling mightily away from Minute Maid Park.  The Astros have another asset in shortstop Jed Lowrie.  GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters today he's getting offers on Lowrie, but a trade is unlikely.

The Royals added some decent-sized commitments for Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie this year, and they also tendered a contract to Luke Hochevar.  Still, as GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star today about their search for a front-rotation starter, "We’re trying to upgrade with guys who will make a major difference to our team. How many opportunities do you get to do that? Not many."


Passan’s Latest: Myers, Fowler, Asdrubal, McCarthy

The Royals have been shopping top prospect Wil Myers but only in exchange for starting pitching, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Earlier this week, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that Kansas City was known to be at least listening to offers for Myers and top position players like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  The only untouchable Royals appear to be Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez due to their team-friendly contracts — "executives consider [Perez's deal] the best in the game," Passan writes.

The Royals have discussed trades with the Rays, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics, Passan reports.  While Myers would be of interest to any team, he is of particular value to low-payroll teams like the Rays and A's given that Gordon and Butler have large contracts and Moustakas/Hosmer are Scott Boras clients.

Here are some more items from Passan…

  • The Rockies' asking price for Dexter Fowler is "absurd," one rival executive tells Passan.  It appears to be a buyers' market for center fielders right now, though another executive warns that "it will shake out" as the offseason progresses.
  • The Indians are shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, though "not at Black Friday prices," an executive says.  Cabrera is one of a few shortstops on the trade market, along with the Astros' Jed Lowrie and the Marlins' Yunel Escobar.
  • Teams are more worried about Brandon McCarthy's history of arm injuries than with his season-ending brain surgery.  If McCarthy's medicals are clear, however, a team executive thinks the right-hander will get a multiyear contract.
  • Anibal Sanchez's demands for a six-year, $90MM contract are "crazy, and he's probably going to get it," an executive tells Passan.

Jed Lowrie Drawing Interest

Several teams have expressed interest in acquiring Jed Lowrie, but the Astros are intent on keeping him unless they are overwhelmed with an offer according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). With few free agent shortstops available, Lowrie figured to be a hot commodity this winter.

The 28-year-old switch-hitter came to Houston in a trade with the Red Sox last offseason. Lowrie hit .244/.331/.438 with 16 homers in 387 plate appearances during his first season with the Astros, but he missed time with thumb and ankle injuries. He's been on the disabled list six times since 2009. Lowrie has experience at all four infield spots and is a career .292/.362/.486 hitter against lefties.

Matt Swartz projects Lowrie to earn $1.9MM in his second trip through arbitration this winter. He'll be eligible for free agency after 2014.



Luhnow Talks Pitching, Trades, Lowrie

The Astros will play with a designated hitter next year, when they move to the American League, so a significant part of their offseason involves acquiring a DH. That’s not the only challenge they face as a result of the league change.

“The hidden element of it is more on the pitching side,” general manager Jeff Luhnow told MLBTR. “It exposes any weaknesses that you might have either in your rotation or in your bullpen because there is no breathing room.”

The Astros will focus on adding depth throughout the pitching staff this offseason. That said, Luhnow doesn’t want to impede the development of players already in the organization who project as long-term contributors. Trades are in play, but the Astros are hesitant to surrender significant players.

“We’ve got some assets that other clubs are interested in, but they’re valuable for us because they help us win games in the short term and they’re cost controlled,” Luhnow said. “So the return would have to be significant to go down that path.”

Jed Lowrie, the 28-year-old shortstop who’s under team control through 2014, could be seen as a trade candidate, especially at a time that the market for free agent shortstops isn’t deep. However, Lowrie remains an important part of the Astros’ vision. 

“We expect him to be our everyday shortstop and put up some pretty big numbers for us assuming he can make it through a whole season,” Luhnow said, noting that the Astros expect the shortstop to remain healthy in 2013.

Until the team completes the move to the AL, it'll be difficult to project its future revenues. While the Astros aren’t expected to bid for the market’s top few free agents, they could spend on select players. Multiyear free agent deals are an option for the Astros under the right circumstances, Luhnow said.


NL Central Notes: Lowrie, Brewers, Cardinals

The NL Central includes the Senior Circuit's most potent offense (the Cardinals) and its lowest-scoring team (the Cubs). The Cardinals outscore the Cubs by more than one run per game (4.88 runs per game vs. 3.69). Here are the latest links from the NL Central…

  • The Astros are telling teams they're open to more trades, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Even Jed Lowrie, who has been on the disabled list with a sprained ankle for the past two weeks, is available.
  • Brewers president of baseball operations Doug Melvin joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and explained how the Zack Greinke trade went down (audio here).
  • The Brewers released Seth McClung, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The right-hander, who last pitched in the Major Leagues in 2009, appeared in 21 games for Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate this year, posting a 6.36 ERA in 103 1/3 innings.
  • The Cardinals have never been more open to trading pitching prospect Shelby Miller, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports. However, at least one team has lost interest in Miller.
  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum will be surprised if Ryan Dempster isn't traded, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Click here for the latest rumors surrounding the right-hander.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Cardinals, Greinke, Astros, Rasmus

With Chris Carpenter set to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a nerve condition in his shoulder, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Cardinals are in the market for at least one starter and one reliever. St. Louis has trade chips though the new collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow teams to recoup draft pick compensation for rental players, changing the landscape.

Let's round up the rest of Rosenthal's rumors…

  • Zack Greinke would likely welcome a trade to – and a chance to sign long-term with – the Cardinals, though it's unclear if the Brewers would be willing to trade him within the division.
  • The Astros are prepared to move Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers, though Jed Lowrie is essentially unavailable. Rosenthal says they could be an obvious trade partner for St. Louis since GM Jeff Luhnow spent nine years in the Cardinals' front office.
  • The Cardinals may not want to invest $20MM+ annually into a pitcher, but both Lance Berkman ($12MM) and Kyle Lohse ($11.875MM) will be off the books after this season.
  • The Blue Jays' immediate strategy may be to acquire a modest rotation upgrade before reassessing at the trade deadline, shortly before Brandon Morrow returns from his oblique injury. Rosenthal believes they should consider selling high on Colby Rasmus.
  • Teams continue to call the Angels about Peter Bourjos and some believe he could be the centerpiece of a deal for a quality starting pitcher. The Halos believe the young outfielder is a building block for the future, however. They do not appear to be in the market for a pitcher at the moment.
  • The difference in income tax rates between Texas (none) and California (among the highest in the country) was an issue for Astros first baseman Carlos Lee as he mulled over a potential trade to the Dodgers. Los Angeles may have been willing to help "bridge the gap" had he shown enthusiasm for the deal.

Carlos Lee Rumors: Saturday

Last night we learned that the Dodgers and Astros are in serious talks about a trade involving Carlos Lee, though the two sides also discussed Jed Lowrie at one point as well. Dodgers' pitching prospect Garrett Gould was rumored to be involved and he was scratched from last night's start, perhaps an indication of how far along things are at the moment. Here's the latest on Lee, the Astros, and Dodgers, with the latest up top…

  • Lee told reporters (including McTaggart) that he expects to make his decision about waiving the no-trade clause by tomorrow.
  • Olney hears that the Dodgers' attitude toward the trade is: "Something else will come up (if it falls through). We'll get somebody." (Twitter link)
  • Sources tell Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the deal would be Lee and cash to ‪the Dodgers‬ for Gould (Twitter links). It's still unclear if Lee will waive his no-trade clause.
  • As of early-afternoon today, Lee continues to tell the Astros that he will not waive his no-trade clause according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
  • Lee met with GM Jeff Luhnow this morning and told reporters (including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and The Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine) that the Dodgers have made an offer (Twitter links). He is going to take some time to decide if he wants to accept the trade, and he has not been given a deadline for his decision. He's unsure if he'll have an answer this weekend.
  • The Astros "will do cartwheels'' if the trade is completed according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The hard part won't be agreeing to the pieces involved, but getting Lee's approval. Heyman mentions that Houston is willing to trade just about anyone on their roster, but it'll take quite a bit to part with Lowrie.
  • The Dodgers prefer to take on salary rather than give up quality prospects under their new ownership, write Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Lee is owed just under $9MM for the remainder of the season.
  • As a reminder, the Dodgers are one of the 14 teams on Lee's no-trade list, so he can veto a deal. Lee does not have traditional 10-and-5 protection, having essentially traded it for a full no-trade clause during the first four years of his six-year, $100MM contract back in 2007.

Dodgers, Astros Discussing Trade

10:11pm: The Dodgers asked about Lowrie, but he's not in the current talks, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.  A source says that there's a 50-50 shot that Carlos Lee accepts a deal to Los Angeles for pitching prospects.

9:57pm: Dodgers‬' talks with ‪Astros‬ involve Carlos Lee, not Jed Lowrie, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Lee would need to a approve deal and has the right to block a deal to the Dodgers.

9:02pm: The Dodgers are talking to the Astros about a trade that would send Jed Lowrie to the Dodgers with minor-leaguers Zach Lee and Garrett Gould headed to Houston, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).  One source place the odds of the deal taking place at about 50-50 right now, Olney tweets.

Sources also say that others could be involved in the talks, according to Olney (via Twitter).  Lowrie would provide the Dodgers with options at shortstop and third base to go along with a power bat.  The 28-year-old has a .262/.350/.492 slash line with 14 homers in 68 games this year.

Lee, 20, was the Dodgers' first-round pick in 2010 and signed with the club over attending LSU on a football scholarship.  The right-hander was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga earlier this week after turning in a 4.55 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 12 California League starts in 2012.

Gould, also a right-hander, was the club's second-round pick in '09 out of Wichita, Kansas.  The soon-to-be 21-year-old has made 12 starts and three relief appearances in the California League this year, posting a 5.12 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.


Central Notes: Jed Lowrie, Jorge Soler, Cardinals

It was on this day in 1973 that Cardinals infielder Joe Torre hit for the cycle in a 15-4 rout of the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. The future Yankees manager would complete the feat by hitting a single with two outs in the ninth inning. Torre would go on to play in the All-Star Game for the ninth and final time a few weeks later. Let's check in on the latest news and headlines out of the National League Central…

  • The Astros have benefited greatly from buying low on shortstop Jed Lowrie as he's found his groove with Houston after injuries plagued his time with the Red Sox, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. New general manager Jeff Luhnow made the trade to get Lowrie upon being hired by the Astros and in his mind, he's acquired a player who can be one of the top five shortstops in the league on an annual basis. 
  • Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com expects the Cubs to add Jorge Soler to the team's 40-man roster upon his official signing after designating Randy Wells for assignment on Wednesday. Soler has until July 1 at 11:59 p.m. to sign the deal with Chicago or he stands to lose approximately $27MM as any international deal signed after that date can only be for a maximum of $2.9MM.
  • The Cardinals are nearing their draft pool bonus cap and don't want to put themselves in a position where they lose a 2013 draft pick as two players remain unsigned, says Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Astros, Lowrie Avoid Arbitration

The Astros announced that they avoided arbitration with infielder Jed Lowrie, signing him to a one-year contract for 2012. CAA represents Lowrie, who joined the Astros in the December trade that sent Mark Melancon to Boston. Lowrie's deal is worth $1.15MM plus performance bonuses, CAA tweets.

As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, first-year GM Jeff Luhnow has now avoided arbitration with all of the team's eligible players. Lowrie filed for $1.5MM and the Astros countered with an offer of $900K for a midpoint of $1.2MM.

Lowrie posted a .252/.303/.382 line with six home runs as a shortstop/third baseman in Boston last year. Mike Aviles, Robert Andino and Blake DeWitt were relevant to his case, as I explained this afternoon.