Mike Lowell Rumors
The Tigers and Rangers have been eyeing Mike Lowell, but both teams are losing interest in the infielder, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The Rangers appear to be pursuing Jorge Cantu aggressively, so their interest in Lowell has faded.
The Tigers had amateur scouting director David Chadd watch Lowell rehab with the Pawtucket Red Sox recently, according to Edes. Detroit just lost infielders Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge to the DL, but a big league source tells Edes that the Tigers aren’t likely to obtain Lowell.
Lowell, 36, has hit .213/.308/.350 in 91 plate appearances this season, but has recently been sidelined with a hip injury. About $4.2MM remains on Lowell’s contract, but the Red Sox would take on a substantial chunk of salary in any trade.
Links for Sunday, as Jim Thome cranks his 576th career home run....
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon that he's actively talking to clubs, but nothing is imminent.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock offers his opinion (via Twitter) of how the Padres should prioritize their needs at the deadline: a starting pitcher and middle infield depth.
- CSN's Jim Salisbury tweets that the Astros, Rays, Giants, and Pirates all have scouts at today's Phillies game. Both J.A. Happ and Jayson Werth are appealing to other teams.
- Jim Edmonds implied that he's leaning toward retiring at season's end, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- A close friend of Josh Byrnes tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the former Diamondbacks GM has no shortage of job offers. Within the column, Cafardo also speculates on the availability of players such as Joakim Soria, Livan Hernandez, and Mike Gonzalez.
- Rangers president Nolan Ryan reiterated that a right-handed first baseman was at or near the top of the club's wish list, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.
- Jim Leyland tells Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press that Dave Dombrowski hasn't informed him of any trade targets during the last two weeks. Specifically, Leyland hasn't heard anything about Ted Lilly or Mike Lowell from the Tigers' GM.
- Referring to trade rumors or contract years as a "distraction" is overblown, according to MLB.com's Alyson Footer.
- Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer has six tips for Ruben Amaro Jr. to keep in mind as the trade deadline approaches, while John Tomase of the Boston Herald would like to see Theo Epstein exercise restraint this week.
The Tigers "have some interest" in Mike Lowell, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Lowell is in the midst of a rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket, and will play third base for the first time on Saturday. He hopes to be healthy enough to be activated next week.
With Brandon Inge set to miss four to six weeks with a broken hand, the Tigers are considering how to fill the void his injury leaves at third base. If they determine that Lowell is healthy and able to play the hot corner, he could be a low-cost replacement. While there is still about $4.76MM remaining on Lowell's 2010 contract, the Red Sox figure to pay nearly all of his salary if it means receiving even a mediocre prospect in return.
Lowell recently expressed pessimism about his trade stock to ESPNBoston's Gordon Edes, but a return to health for the 36-year-old could mean he draws a little more interest before July 31st.
The latest on the Red Sox, one night after a near-no-hitter almost turned into an ugly loss:
- Adrian Beltre told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that "it's too early to tell" if he'll re-sign in Boston after the season. We still have two months to go before the end of the regular season, so it's hard to argue with Beltre's logic.
- It's a "longshot" that Jed Lowrie ends up with the Padres, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).
- Mike Lowell told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he'll decide whether to retire in September.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney predicts that the Red Sox will keep David Ortiz next year, if only to prevent Big Papi from signing with the Rays or Yankees.
- Manager Terry Francona wondered to Lauber if Josh Beckett's early-season struggles may have been related to the $68MM extension he signed.
- Now that the Red Sox have acquired utility infielder Jack Hannahan, ESPN's Buster Olney speculates (via Twitter) that Jed Lowrie might be expendable, and a candidate to be dealt to San Diego.
- In an appearance on WEEI's Big Show, J.P. Ricciardi doesn't think Boston will do "something crazy" at the trade deadline and deal a top prospect like Casey Kelly. WEEI.com's Jay Asser has the full transcript of Ricciardi's comments.
- WEEI.com's Rob Bradford tweets that Mike Lowell's minor league rehabilitation game was attended by scouts from the Blue Jays, Orioles, Royals and Tigers. Detroit actually had two scouts present, though nothing should necessarily be read into this fact since Pawtucket was playing the Tigers' own Triple-A affiliate. Given how many rumors the Tigers have been tied to themselves, those scouts also could've been looking at some Mud Hens players.
The Red Sox have close to a full lineup of players on the disabled list, but the forgotten man in that group seems to be third baseman Mike Lowell. Prior to hitting the shelf with soreness in his surgically repaired hip, the 36-year-old Lowell hit just .213/.308/.350 in very sporadic playing time due to the presence of Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis, plus David Ortiz's resurgence.
Lowell told ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes he has given up hope that the team will release him so he can find work elsewhere.
"I don’t know if it’s specifically because I might beat them, I just don’t think they want me to go to another team while they pay my salary,’’ Lowell said. “At this point, they’re not going to get anything [in a trade]. You’re going to get a subpar prospect at best. There’s too much time left in the season, they’re not going to get money."
There is still $5.3MM left on Lowell's contract this season, after which he'll be a free agent. In his own words, Lowell will "clear waivers in two seconds" because of that salary, so the July 31st trade deadline doesn't really apply to him. The Red Sox can let his market develop in August if they want.
Lowell did back off when asked about retirement, telling WEEI.com's DJ Bean that he's "thinking short term" for the time being. Back in April he indicated that he'd almost certainly call it a career after this season.
The immediate plan is for Lowell to get a cortisone shot in his hip on Monday, then head to Triple-A Pawtucket for a rehab assignment beginning Thursday. He expects the shot to help with flexibility, and Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal says it could even allow him to play in 2011.
Despite his injury and ineffectiveness, several teams remain interested in acquiring the former World Series MVP. The Rangers have been connected to Lowell more than any other team, but the Twins, Angels, Mariners, and White Sox have also popped up as potential suitors this season. Regardless of who acquires him, the Red Sox will almost certainly have to pick up most of his salary.
The Rangers pulled out of a deal for Mike Lowell in December due to concerns about Lowell's injured thumb, but were apparently fine with the status of Lowell's right hip. In spite of the fact that Lowell is currently on the DL with a strain in that hip, Texas still has enough interest to be monitoring the veteran infielder's progress, according to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
Now that Texas has dealt Justin Smoak, it opens up a need for a right-handed bat at first base should Chris Davis not be able to handle an everyday job. We know that the Rangers have shown interest in Xavier Nady, who comes at a much lower price tag than the $5.28MM or so that remains on Lowell's 2010 contract. We heard last month that the Red Sox were willing to pay all of Lowell's salary in exchange for a better prospect, but as the days on the calendar continue to slide away, that offer from the Red Sox becomes increasingly less worth the cost of a higher-rated prospect.
The Lowell-to-Texas rumors have lingered all season long, so it's perhaps fitting that these negotiations might take us right up to the deadline and beyond. You'd have to think that if the Rangers still have eyes on Lowell after his further injuries and a lack of production (a .658 OPS in 91 plate appearances), they like him enough to eventually bring him on board after all.
Many of this year's trade candidates share a distinguishing characteristic: they are about to become free agents. After the season, their teams will decide whether to offer arbitration and have a chance at top picks in next year's draft. A player's ranking can contribute to or detract from his trade value, so let's take a look at some of this year's trade candidates and see where they place under our reverse-engineered Elias rankings.
We'll start with some trade candidates who project as Type A free agents. If these players decline arbitration offers to sign elsewhere, their former teams will receive two top picks in the 2011 draft. These players are sometimes more inclined to accept arbitration, since their Type A status can intimidate would-be suitors who don't want to surrender a pick (just ask Juan Cruz and Orlando Hudson).
It's important to note that teams don't necessarily give first rounders up to sign the players below. The first 15 picks are protected and sometimes teams sign more than one Type A player. Say the Red Sox sign Adam Dunn (75.8 ranking) and Scott Downs (74.6 ranking) and both were offered arb. The Nationals would get Boston's top pick and the Blue Jays would get their second-best pick because Dunn ranks higher than Downs. In that instance, Downs only costs the Red Sox a second rounder.
Once a team signs one Type A free agent, the cost of signing a second and a third drops, since the club is giving up lesser picks. Rafael Soriano (88.9), Vladimir Guerrero (88.6), Carl Crawford (85.5), Javier Vazquez (79.0) and Adrian Beltre (78.9) could all get arbitration offers this winter, so Type As, especially lower-ranked players, don't always cost a first rounder. With that in mind, here are some trade candidates who currently have Type A status:
- Cliff Lee (91.8) - He is getting an arbitration offer and turning it down. Lee's Type A status boosts his trade value.
- Jayson Werth (86.0) - Same goes for Werth.
- David DeJesus (78.3)- Matt Klaassen of FanGraphs argued yesterday that the Royals shouldn't offer arbitration, since DeJesus would accept. It's entirely possible that the Royals can get more value for DeJesus in a trade, but I don't think DeJesus would necessarily accept arbitration. He will easily be a top-five outfielder if his team lets him hit free agency instead of picking up his $6MM option. And if he accepts? The team has an above-average outfielder on an affordable one-year deal.
- Adam Dunn (75.8) - He will get an arbitration offer and will probably turn it down. Dunn's Type A status boosts his trade value.
- Scott Downs (74.6) - Earlier this week, I suggested the Blue Jays could offer Downs arbitration and either collect the picks or pay him $5MM or so in 2011. There's a good chance that Downs accepts an offer of arbitration, but the chance at two top picks probably makes that a risk worth taking.
- Miguel Tejada (74.4) - It's hard to imagine teams forfeiting picks to sign Tejada. It seems unlikely that a team would offer arbitration. Tejada's Type A status doesn't affect his trade value (and he is only a couple points away from becoming a Type B).
- Ted Lilly (74.3) - Lilly will be a top free agent starter after the season, so the Cubs will likely offer arbitration. Lilly's Type A status boosts his trade value.
And here are some players who currently project as Type B free agents. These players will bring their former teams a supplementary round pick if they decline arbitration to sign elsewhere. But teams don't have to give up their picks to sign Type Bs, which makes these players appealing as free agents.
- John Buck - J. P. Arencibia is Toronto's catcher of the future, but it's easy to imagine the Blue Jays (or another team) offering Buck arbitration after the season. It worked last year, when the Jays got a supplemental rounder for losing Rod Barajas. Buck wouldn't make much through arbitration, so his Type B status boosts his trade value.
- Jose Guillen - It's extremely hard to imagine the Royals offering arbitration. His Type B status does not affect his trade value.
- Mike Lowell - Same goes for Lowell.
- Kevin Millwood - And for Millwood.
- Jason Frasor - Frasor makes only $2.65MM this year, so he wouldn't be making an overwhelming amount even if he accepted arbitration. Obtaining a pick for Frasor would be a plus, so his Type B status helps his trade value.
- Derrek Lee - Given Lee's struggles and salary, it's hard to imagine his team offering arbitration.
- Cristian Guzman - Guzman makes $8MM this year and though players aren't guaranteed raises via this kind of arbitration, Guzman isn't even worth his current salary on the open market. An arbitration offer seems unlikely, so his status doesn't affect his trade value.
- Octavio Dotel - Like Frasor, Dotel could see an offer of arbitration, depending on how he finishes the season, so his Type B status helps his trade value. The Pirates have a $4MM option for Dotel that becomes mutual if he is traded.
- Aaron Heilman - It seems unlikely that the D'Backs would feel comfortable offering Heilman arbitration, given his inconsistent performance in 2010, so his status doesn't help his trade value.
Monday night linkage..
- Using MLBTR's reverse engineered Elias Rankings, Jack Moore of Fangraphs writes that Ted Lilly and Felipe Lopez are two Type A free agents to keep an eye on in the National League.
- R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs sees Kelly Johnson and Jose Lopez as potential fits for the Phillies.
- Buck Showalter told Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun that he has not yet been offered the O's managerial position.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson expects the Nationals to be buyers at the Trade Deadline.
- Chuck Greenberg's group has waived their exclusive right to purchase the Rangers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The lenders who hold the debt on Hicks Sports Group believe that there are other potential buyers out there who would pay more for the club.
- Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal wonders if Mike Lowell might consider retiring before the end of the season. If he were to retire now, the veteran would be leaving more than $5MM on the table.
Links for Friday, as the Rangers keep streaking...
- A few Cubs people told Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald that they're not trying to move Kosuke Fukudome as aggressively as it seems. The Cubs would still like to trade him, though.
- In a piece for the New York Times, Baseball-Reference creator Sean Forman says the Padres may be one above-average bat away from sustaining their surprisingly good start.
- Should the Dodgers trade Matt Kemp? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports answers that question with a definite 'yes.'
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Mike Lowell's hip issues, which have landed him on the disabled list, prevented the completion of the deal that would have sent Lowell to Texas over the winter. Lowell tells Speier he knows his DL stint will hurt his trade value.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer wonders if the Reds could trade Aaron Harang.
- The Padres need to add a bat, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Check out my appearance on Bloomberg Sports' Ballpark Figures series right here.
- Joe Torre told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that he would have room for Robinson Cano on his all-time Yankees team (Twitter link). Torre also managed All-Star second basemen Chuck Knoblauch and Alfonso Soriano in the Bronx.
- Kevin Kernan of the New York Post says it's the Mets' turn to make a big mid-summer acquisition. Kernan would like to see the Mets bring Cliff Lee back to the NL East.
- A person close to Lee told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that the lefty would not mind playing in New York.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post strongly endorses Bobby Valentine and Buck Showalter as managers. Sherman writes that the two skippers "are both fantastic at running a game" and would fit well in Florida and Baltimore, respectively.