Jed Lowrie Rumors
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.
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.
Only two of the 13 remaining unsigned arbitration eligible players filed for less than $2MM: Alexi Casilla and Jed Lowrie. Though they’re reasonably similar in terms of career stats, Casilla is arbitration eligible for the second time, so the players relevant to his case are different than the players relevant to Lowrie’s.
Casilla, who earned $865K in 2011, posted a .260/.322/.368 line with two home runs in 365 plate appearances while playing second base and shortstop last year. He filed for $1.75MM, while the Twins countered with a $1.065MM submission for a midpoint of $1.407MM.
Current infielders who put together similar Arb 1 seasons to Casilla’s 2011 campaign include Aaron Miles, whose salary jumped from $1MM to $1.4MM after the 2007 season, Alfredo Amezaga, whose salary jumped from $945K to $1.3MM after the 2008 season, and Jeff Baker, whose salary jumped from $975K to $1.175MM after the 2010 season. All three are among the possible comparables for Casilla's case, in my view, though his representatives may focus on similar players who settled above the midpoint.
Lowrie filed for $1.5MM after a season in which he posted a .252/.303/.382 line with six home runs as a shortstop/third baseman in Boston. The Astros offered their new infielder $900K for a midpoint of $1.2MM.
Mike Aviles, who essentially replaces Lowrie on Boston’s roster, may be his top comp in arbitration. Aviles settled at $1.2MM -- Lowrie's midpoint -- after a highly similar platform season. Aviles has better career numbers across the board, and that should help the Astros build their case. On either side of Aviles, we have two first-time eligible infielders from the current service class: Robert Andino at $1.3MM and Blake DeWitt at $1.1MM. Andino had a strong platform year, while DeWitt has the career bulk and both will figure in to Lowrie's case.
The Red Sox acquired reliever Mark Melancon from the Astros for shortstop Jed Lowrie and starter Kyle Weiland, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first tweeted that Weiland was traded to Houston in a deal that involved a reliever going to Boston. The deal marks the first trade involving Major Leaguers by both Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington since taking over their respective roles.
Melancon, 26, turned in a 2.78 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9, and 56.7% groundball rate in 74 1/3 innings this year, saving 20 games in 25 tries. The right-hander won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season and won't hit free agency until after the 2016 campaign. Acquiring Melancon will bolster Boston's bullpen, but they're unlikely to stop here, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston has reportedly been after A's closer Andrew Bailey and Rosenthal says that they can't be ruled out on Ryan Madson.
Lowrie has been drawing a good deal interest from clubs this offseason. The infielder's name also came up during the Winter Meetings when the Red Sox met with the Rangers and discussed possible trades. In 341 plate appearances for Boston last season, the oft-injured Lowrie hit .252/.303/.382 with six homers. Lowrie has been used all around the infield, but he's likely to take over as the Astros' starting shortstop. He's arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and MLBTR projects a $1.2MM salary.
Weiland, 25, struggled in 24 2/3 innings in his Red Sox debut this year. At Triple-A, he posted a 3.58 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9 in 128 1/3 innings. A third-round pick in 2008, Baseball America ranked Weiland 20th among Red Sox prospects prior to the season. BA says the former Notre Dame closer "relishes pitching inside" and his "best pitch is a low-90s fastball that peaks at 95 but is most notable for its hard sink." The Astros plan to use Weiland as a starter in 2012, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
The Astros will have to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, as it was full prior to the trade.
The Rangers met with the Red Sox this morning, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. The Sox have interest in Rangers relievers Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe, while the Rangers like infielder Jed Lowrie. Uehara and Lowe are both eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, while Lowrie is under team control through 2014.
The Orioles and other teams are interested in Uehara as well, but the Rangers still hold him in high regard despite his struggles late in the year for them.
8:49am: The talks are not that far along and the A's have not asked for Middlebrooks, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. The A's would need more, but WEEI's Alex Speier tweets that they've liked Lars Anderson, Raul Alcantara, and Brandon Workman. Things are currently quiet on the Bailey-Red Sox trade front, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.
6:39am: The A's asked the Red Sox for third base prospect Will Middlebrooks, writes the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. It's probably safe to assume that Middlebrooks, 23, is not one of the prospects mentioned in Gammons' proposal.
5:01am: Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets that the Athletics are considering a trade offer from the Red Sox that includes Josh Reddick and prospects in exchange for Andrew Bailey. Jed Lowrie is not in this proposal.
The 24-year-old Reddick appeared at all three outfield spots for the Sox in 2011 (earning stellar reviews from UZR and DRS in an admittedly small sample) and hit a solid .280/.327/.457 in 278 plate appearances.
The A's stand to lose their entire starting outfield of David DeJesus (already signed with the Cubs), Coco Crisp, and Josh Willingham to free agency this offseason, so it makes sense that they would have interest in controllable outfielders.
The two teams were reportedly set to meet on Tuesday to discuss a potential Bailey trade, though is is the first we've heard of the results.
- GM Ben Cherington's comments today suggest the Red Sox won't be bringing back Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, says Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- The Sox have talked to other clubs about Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Red Sox and White Sox met to discuss a possible Carlos Quentin trade, but there's no match at the moment, says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
- Boston has checked in on Brad Lidge, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- DeMarlo Hale, the club's bench coach for the last two seasons, won't be returning for 2012, writes ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. Hale is expected to take a job in the Orioles' organization.
The latest buzz out of the AL East...
- A few teams are asking the Red Sox about infielder Jed Lowrie, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Braves are not in the picture for Lowrie, notes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.
- The Rays are telling teams they will talk about center fielder B.J. Upton, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, but they have to be overwhelmed to move him. Upton has one year remaning before free agency.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters he's very confident of getting a contract extension, and he's had talks with the team.
- The Orioles are receiving plenty of interest in righty Jim Johnson, reports MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, but they don't seem intent on moving him. The Orioles are undecided on whether to use Johnson as a starter or reliever next year, manager Buck Showalter told reporters today.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe gives a list of suggestions for the Red Sox's offseason. As they look for a solution in right field, Cafardo feels that the club should go after Michael Cuddyer with Carlos Beltran as a Plan B. The BoSox are also looking for a pair of affordable starters and two interesting names that could be had in deals are Joe Saunders of the Diamondbacks and Francisco Liriano of the Twins. Here's more from Cafardo..
- There were many scouts and GMs in the Dominican Republic recently and Jed Lowrie came up often as a possible shortstop/third base candidate. Teams like his offense and are skeptical about his defense, but are more worried about his mental toughness and his ability to play through injury. The 27-year-old may become a chip for the Red Sox in a deal.
- The Astros are getting more and more inquiries about the availability of Wandy Rodriguez. The Red Sox are one of the teams that have asked.
- Scouts and GMs believe that the Athletics would deal left-hander Gio Gonzalez for the right price. An NL talent evaluator noted that the 26-year-old would be at the top of a lot of teams' lists.
- Baseball people we talked to seem to think that if the Marlins are thinking big, Jose Reyes is the most logical signing for them, with Hanley Ramirez shifting over to third. Cafardo also wonders if the Brewers would explore signing with the likelihood of losing Prince Fielder.
- Free agent David Ortiz is still very much in play with the Orioles. O's GM Dan Duquette met with Ortiz’s agent, Fern Cuza, at the GM meetings.
- Cafardo could envision Jason Varitek backing up Matt Wieters in Baltimore
- The BoSox have considered former Mets GM Omar Minaya for a front office role, but nothing is official yet.
In today's column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo wonders what the future holds for David Ortiz after his contract expires at the end of this season. An American League official says the Red Sox should be "looking at keeping his salary level around the same if his production maintains steady." Ortiz, who is earning $12MM in 2011, would like to retire with the Sox, and acknowledges that signing with a National League club is unlikely: "I would have to consider it. I don’t think people want me for that, because I’m a hitter." Here are a few of Cafardo's other notes:
- In the short term, Marco Scutaro, who has been discussed internally by the Phillies, could be valuable to a team looking for a middle infielder. Down the line, the Sox could still have an excess of infielders - Cafardo says Jose Iglesias should be ready to be a full-time MLB shortstop in 2012, meaning Boston may not have enough room in its lineup for him, Jed Lowrie, and Kevin Youkilis. If I'm the Red Sox, I view that as a good problem to have, and address it if and when it comes to that.
- A Dodgers official concedes that Russell Martin is "playing great" for the Yankees. "Better than he played for us," adds the official. However, he cautions that Martin tends to fade in the second half, which has to be of some concern for the Yanks. While Martin's career batting splits don't fully back up that assertion, the backstop did miss most of the second half in 2010 with a hip injury.
- The Angels have been exploring potential trades involving their catchers since Spring Training. They'd likely prefer dealing Bobby Wilson to Jeff Mathis, and may be seeking a left-handed outfield bat in return.