Derek Lowe: What’s His Trade Market?

On January 13, 2009, the Atlanta Braves signed Derek Lowe to a four-year, $60 million deal. The Braves signed Lowe after they failed to sign AJ Burnett, who signed with the New York Yankees.

Now less than one year later, the Braves are looking to trade 6’6” righty.

Why would the Braves look to trade Lowe just after one year? Well, for one, they feel they have an excess of pitching. And two, if they are able to trade Lowe, they could free up some money to add offense.

The Braves want to unload Lowe

So can the Braves trade Lowe? Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons of Lowe and what teams would be interested in trading for the former member of Red Sox Nation.

Pros

If you trade for Lowe, you are going to trade for one of the most durable pitchers in the game.

Lowe has started 30-plus games every season since moving from the bullpen to a starter in 2002. And since moving to the National League in 2005, Lowe has led the league in starts three out of those five years.

Over the last three years, Lowe is third in the National League in innings pitched with 605. In a sport where quantity counts just as much as quality for a pitcher, Lowe’s durability goes a long way.

Perhaps Lowe’s best asset is his ability to pitch well in big games. We all know what he did in the 2004 playoffs for the Red Sox winning the clinching game in all three series.

Lowe was also solid in two out of his three starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2008 playoffs.

Cons

Can you believe Lowe is going to be 37-years-old next year? It’s a little surprising considering that he looks a lot younger.

And with Lowe getting older, perhaps his age started to show in 2009. Lowe’s ERA rose from 3.24 in 2008 to 4.67 in 2009 and Lowe’s hits/9 increased to 10.7, which was his highest since 2004 (11/9).

Lowe K’s/9 went down from 6.3 in 2008 to 5.1 in 2009 and his BB/9 went up from 1.9 in 2008 to 2.9 in 2009. And while Lowe is known as a sinkerball/groundball pitcher, in 2009 he threw a lower percentage of groundballs (56.3) than at any point during his career.

It’s never a good sign when a groundball pitcher is throwing more flyballs than ever.

Lastly, the biggest con Lowe has going for him is his contract. Lowe still has three years and $45 million on his contract. The Braves overpaid for Lowe last year and they are going to hard pressed to move that size contract in this economy.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of Lowe, let’s take a look at the teams that might be interested in trading for the native of Dearborn, MI.

Milwaukee Brewers: There was a lot of talk recently of a Lowe for Corey Hart swap, but that was correctly turned down by the Brewers.

I know the Brewers are desperate for starting pitching, but even if all things were equal I wouldn’t have made that move if I was the Brewers’ GM.

New York Yankees: The Yankees had their choice between Burnett and Lowe last year and went with the younger Lowe. However, if Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back they feel Phil Hughes is still better suited to be in the pen, then Lowe could be an option.

It would be a long shot, but an option none the less.

Seattle Mariners: Another long shot, but the Mariners do need a number two starter and perhaps the Mariners could bring back the pitcher they traded away almost 12 years ago.

For those of you not familiar with what I am talking about, the Seattle Mariners trade Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb.

I’ll check that one off as a win for the Red Sox.

Texas Rangers: Unless the Braves ate a significant portion of Lowe’s contract, it would be hard for the Rangers to acquire Lowe.

However, the Rangers could use a guy like Lowe and if they can get the Braves to eat a large portion of Lowe’s contract, then he would make sense for the Rangers.

As I have mentioned, the biggest problem the Braves will have with trading Lowe is his contract. Unless the Braves eat a significant portion of the deal, they are going to have a tough time trading him.

Now if it were my decision–I wouldn’t trade Lowe. This whole “the Braves have an excess of pitching” is comical to me.

Guess what? There is no such thing in baseball. The Red Sox had more pitching depth than any team in baseball going into 2009 and they still had to bring in Paul Byrd off his couch in August.

I guarantee that if the Braves trade Lowe or Javier Vazquez, something will happen to one of their remaining starters and they will be searching for a starter by the July 31st trading deadline.

That’s just the way baseball works.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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