Jed Lowrie Rumors
Former Expos and Orioles GM Jim Beattie, who's now a pro scout for the Blue Jays, says the Jays are looking for help at second base and in their bullpen, Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network notes. "We’re always looking for pitching depth in the bullpen and our situation at second place is a little unsettled," Beattie says. "We have two guys (Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis) there but they’re not everyday guys." Here are more notes from the American League.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow explains the rationale that led the team to replace Jed Lowrie with Tyler Greene, and then to replace Greene with Ronny Cedeno, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports. "When the Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno, he was a player that we had targeted during the offseason. But we had Lowrie most of the offseason, so we weren't aggressive," says Luhnow. "When (Cedeno) became available, we went back to our original plan, which was to try and get him in here." The Cardinals signed Cedeno in late January, while the Astros did not trade Lowrie (to the Athletics) until early February.
- Reliever Kameron Loe is hoping to stay with the Mariners, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The Mariners need to decide by Tuesday whether to open a roster spot for Loe, or the non-roster pitcher could exercise an out clause in his contract. "I hope we can work something out," Loe says. "I really like it here." Loe posted a 4.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings for the Brewers in 2012.
The Athletics and Astros completed a five-player trade that fortifies the 2013 A’s and adds depth to Houston’s organization. Infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez join the Athletics in exchange for first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi. Here’s the latest reaction to the trade, which was officially announced last night:
- While the deal fits into Houston’s long-term vision, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders how low the Astros can go before becoming an embarrassment to MLB. The Astros have lost a total of 213 games since 2011, and it seems likely that they’ll struggle again in 2013. “There aren’t many years where you can say one team will definitely have the No. 1 pick,” a rival GM told Rosenthal. “But they will definitely have the No. 1.” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow maintains that his primary objective is putting together a consistent winner. “Whether that’s ’14, ’15, ’16, we don’t know. But that’s what we’re working toward. So, any move we make has to be seen in that light.”
- The Astros added three young players with value, "but no star potential" ESPN.com's Keith Law writes. It's a good return in terms of value, though none of the newcomers are likely to become All-Stars. Law wonders if the Astros could have obtained a possible star in the deal instead of adding depth.
- The 2013 Athletics have a deeper, better infield following the trade, FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan explains. Meanwhile, the Astros have more talent now than they did at this time yesterday.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney points out that Bud Norris’ $3MM salary now leads the Astros. That’s less than the average MLB salary and what Zack Greinke will earn in three weeks, as Olney points out. It's possible the Astros will have a historically poor record. "What you question is, how bad can they be," an NL official told Olney.
- Entering the offseason it was clear the A’s needed to bolster the left side of their infield, and I like that they’ve managed to accomplish that goal at a reasonable cost. That said, I can see why the Astros decided to move Lowrie at a time that his trade value remains reasonably high.
The Astros announced that they sent shortstop Jed Lowrie to the Athletics in a five-player trade. The Astros acquire first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi from the A's in the deal, which sends right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland along with Lowrie.
The Astros are trading Lowrie approximately one year after acquiring him from the Red Sox. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow maintained throughout the offseason that he didn't want to trade Lowrie unless he could obtain impact players in return.
“This trade gives us power, pitching and catching,” Luhnow said in a statement released by the team. “Three valuable commodities that will help improve our organization.”
Lowrie, who turns 29 in April, enjoyed arguably his best season in 2012 -- his lone season in Houston. After being traded from the Red Sox along with Kyle Weiland in exchange for Mark Melancon, Lowrie hit .244/.331/.438. He hit a career-high 16 home runs, but was held to just 97 games due to a thumb sprain and an ankle injury. Unfortunately, those 97 games also represent a career-best for Lowrie as well.
Lowrie is set to earn $2.4MM in 2013 after avoiding arbitration with the Astros last month. He'll be eligible for arbitration a third and final time next offseason and is eligible for free agency following the 2014 season. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out (on Twitter), the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.
The 28-year-old Rodriguez struggled in 2012, posting a 5.37 ERA in 70 1/3 frames for the Astros. However, his FIP (4.22) and xFIP (4.23) are nearly identical to the marks he posted in 2011 when his ERA was 3.96. He averaged 93.9 mph on his heater last season and has fanned 136 batters in 123 1/3 innings. He can be controlled through 2017.
Peacock, who turned 25 on Saturday, ranked fourth on Baseball America's list of Top 10 Athletics prospects. The right-hander was a key component of last winter's Gio Gonzalez trade but had a down season in 2012. He had a 6.01 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 134 2/3 innings for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate. BA's Jim Shonerd wrote in November that Peacock pitched up in the zone too frequently in 2012, and added:
"When he's going well, he still shows three quality pitches. Peacock's fastball works at 91-95 mph but lacks movement, underscoring the need for better command. He also flashes a sharp curveball and a changeup with depth. He has added a slider/cutter hybrid to help induce weak contact, but it remains a work in progress."
Stassi, 21, entered the season as Oakland's No. 14 prospect, according to BA. He spent 2012 at High-A Stockton, where he batted .268/.331/.468 with 15 homers in 360 trips to the plate. He's been bothered by shoulder problems throughout his professional career, but BA praises his compact swing, solid power and ability to use the middle of the field.
The 26-year-old Carter is a former top prospect in his own right, and he displayed the power that earned him that distinction in 2012. Carter batted .239/.350/.514 with 16 homers in 260 plate appearances for the A's. He is under team control through 2018 and is not yet eligible for arbitration.
Beane has now traded away two of the four players he acquired in last offseason's trade of Gonzalez. He moved A.J. Cole back to Washington in a trade that sent John Jaso to the A's and Mike Morse to the Mariners. Tommy Milone and Derek Norris still remain a part of the A's organization.
Steve Adams also contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Athletics talked to the Astros about a possible trade involving Jed Lowrie earlier this winter, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The A's weren't prepared to meet Houston's asking price of both Chris Carter and a young pitcher in exchange for Lowrie, who has drawn interest from several teams this winter. Hiroyuki Nakajima has since been signed and is slated to be Oakland's regular shortstop, though Slusser speculates that the A's could revisit Lowrie if they develop a need for an infielder during the season.
Lowrie was limited to 387 plate appearances last season due to DL stints with ankle and thumb injuries, and .244/.331/.438 with 16 homers in his first season in Houston. He was arb-eligible for the second time this winter, avoiding the process by agreeing to a one-year, $2.4MM deal with the Astros.
The A's could also add depth at shortstop in the form of Cuban prospect Aledmys Diaz, as Slusser reports the club will have scouts at Diaz's workout later this month. At least ten teams (including the Twins and Cardinals) are known to be interested in Diaz, a 23-year-old who can be signed without having his salary count against the international signing cap.
Dozens of players will agree to terms with their respective teams today and avoid arbitration. We'll have detailed posts on the top earners around MLB, and we'll track more modest agreements -- those worth less than $4MM -- right here. MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will have all of the details.
Teams had until 12pm CDT today to exchange filing numbers with their arbitration eligible players. Generally speaking the deadline creates lots of discussion and leads to early deals. Plus, for ‘file and trial’ teams this marks the final chance for negotiations in advance of a hearing. Here are the latest agreements from around MLB...
- The Padres announced that they have avoided arbitration with Edinson Volquez. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The Red Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Andrew Bailey ($4.1MM), Daniel Bard ($1.8625MM), Andrew Miller ($1.475MM), and Franklin Morales ($1.4875MM). Terms courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- The Mets and Bobby Parnell avoided arb with a $1.7MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, agreeing to a deal worth $2.65MM plus incentives, according to O'Connell Sports Management, Aceves' agency (on Twitter via Jon Heyman).
- The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell and Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter). Samardzija obtains $2.64MM while Russell gets $1.075MM, Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Diamondbacks announced that they avoided arbitration with Chris Johnson ($2.2875MM). The team also avoided arbitration with Brad Ziegler ($3.15MM), agreeing to a one-year deal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports (on Twitter). Terms courtesy of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
- The Nationals announced that they agreed to terms with Tyler Clippard, avoiding arbitration (via Amanda Comak on Twitter). The Nationals avoided arbitration with Ian Desmond, agreeing to a one-year, $3.8MM deal, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports (on Twitter). The Nationals also avoided arb with Roger Bernadina according to the outfielder's agent, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). The Nationals and Ross Detwiler agreed to a one-year, $2.3375MM contract, according to CAA (via Twitter).
- Brennan Boesch and Phil Coke avoided arbitration, agreeing to one-year deals with the Tigers, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Boesch will earn $2.3MM while Coke will earn $1.85MM. The Tigers also avoided arbitration with Alex Avila, agreeing to a one-year, $2.95MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Austin Jackson agreed to a deal worth $3.5MM for 2013, Heyman reports. Doug Fister obtained a one-year, $4MM deal from Detroit, Heyman reports.
- The Dodgers and A.J. Ellis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $2MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ronald Belisario agreed to a one-year, $1.45MM deal, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports (on Twitter).
- The Mariners announced that they avoided arbitration with Kendrys Morales and Brendan Ryan on one-year agreements for 2013. Morales will obtain $5.25MM plus performance bonuses, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Ryan obtained $3.25MM, Heyman reports (on Twitter).
- The Rockies avoided arb with Tyler Colvin, agreeing to a one-year deal, the team announced (on Twitter). Colvin will earn $2.275MM, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Cristhian Martinez, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports (on Twitter). The Braves avoided arb with Kris Medlen, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (on Twitter). Medlen will earn $2.6MM in 2013. They also avoided arb with Jason Heyward, agreeing to a one-year, $3.65MM deal, Bowman reports (onTwitter). The Braves agreed with another young player, avoiding arb with Jonny Venters, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). It's a $1.625MM deal. Earlier today the Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Eric O'Flaherty, avoiding arbitration, Bowman reported (on Twitter). He'll earn $4.32MM plus awards bonuses, Bowman adds.
- The Athletics announced they avoided arb with Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss, agreeing to one-year deals for 2013.
- The Cardinals avoided arb with Mitchell Boggs and Edward Mujica, B.J. Rains of FOX Sports MidWest reports (on Twitter).
- The Indians announced that they avoided arb with Matt Albers and Justin Masterson. Albers will earn $1.75MM in 2013, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter). Masterson will earn $5.6875MM according to Bastian (on Twitter). The Indians and Joe Smith avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.15MM deal, Bastian reported earlier today (on Twitter). The Indians also avoided arbitration with Lou Marson, Bastian reports (Twitter links). The catcher will earn $1MM on a one-year deal in 2013.
- The Astros avoided arb with Wesley Wright, agreeing to a one-year deal, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (on Twitter). Wright will earn $1.025MM, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Earlier today the Astros and Bud Norris avoided arb with a one-year, $3MM deal, McTaggart reports (on Twitter). The Astros and Jed Lowrie avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.4MM deal with awards bonuses, according to his representatives at CAA Baseball (on Twitter).
- The White Sox announced that they avoided arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, agreeing to a $2.075MM deal for 2013. The White Sox also avoided arb with Gordon Beckham, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.925MM for 2013, MLBTR has learned.
- The Orioles announced that they avoided arb with Chris Davis and Brian Matusz (Twitter link). Matusz gets a base salary of $1.6MM while Davis gets $3.3MM, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (Twitter links). The Orioles also avoided arbitration with Troy Patton. The sides agreed to a one-year, $815K deal, his agency, CAA Sports, announced on Twitter.
- The Brewers avoided arb with right-hander Marco Estrada and reliever Burke Badenhop, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter links). Estrada will earn $1.955MM while Badenhop will earn $1.55MM, Haudricourt reports.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with Matthew Joyce and Ryan Roberts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). Joyce will earn $2.45MM and Roberts will earn $2.95MM plus incentives, the Rays announced. The Rays also avoided arbitration with Sam Fuld, agreeing to a one-year, $725K deal, Topkin reported (on Twitter). Earlier today the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeff Niemann. The sides agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Royals announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Hochevar, agreeing to a one-year deal for 2013. Hochevar will earn $4.56MM plus performance bonuses, Pete Grathoff of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter).
- The Yankees avoided arb with Boone Logan, agreeing to a one-year, $3.15MM deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Padres avoided arb with John Baker, agreeing to a $930K deal (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Twins and Brian Duensing avoided arb with a $1.3MM deal for 2013 (via CAA Sports on Twitter).
- The Marlins avoided arbitration with Ryan Webb, agreeing to a $975K deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports (on Twitter).
- The Blue Jays announced that they avoided arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio by agreeing to a one-year, $2.6MM deal. The Blue Jays also announced that they avoided arbitration with J.A. Happ, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7MM deal for 2013.
- The Angels and Tommy Hanson avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.725MM deal, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.
- The Giants avoided arb with Gregor Blanco, agreeing to a one-year, $1.35MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Phillies announced that they avoided arbitration with Antonio Bastardo with a $1.4MM contract for 2013.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.75MM deal plus bonuses to avoid arbitration, according to the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter).
The latest from Jon Heyman and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (links go to Twitter)...
- There’s no word from Roy Oswalt on whether he’ll pitch in 2013, Heyman reports.
- The Astros would have to be overwhelmed to trade Jed Lowrie, according to Heyman. However, the Astros have talked to teams such as the Cardinals and Rangers about possible deals involving Bud Norris. Norris, 27, goes to arbitration for the first time this offseason following a 2012 campaign in which he posted a 4.65 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 168 1/3 innings. Even after a mixed platform season, Norris will do reasonably well in arbitration thanks to his career total of 563 2/3 innings. MLBTR projects a salary of $2.9MM.
- The Tigers had almost a dozen calls about Rick Porcello within a few hours of their agreement with right-hander Anibal Sanchez, Knobler reports. The Tigers are expected to trade Porcello, who’s second time arbitration eligible with a projected salary of $4.7MM. The Cubs called, but there's no match, Knobler adds.
- The Twins aren't done adding pitching, Heyman reports.
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."
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.
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.
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.