The Mets have finally made an offer to free agent starter Derek Lowe. They have proposed 3 years, 36 million.
If Lowe ends up with this, it will be a major steal for the Mets. Could you believe that after Carlos Silva nabbed 4 years, 48 million that Lowe could be stuck with only 3 years, 36 million? It makes no sense at all. Even after this year, a year in which AJ Burnett received 5 years, 82.5 million, Lowe could get less. I know that some will disagree, but Lowe is a better, more durable pitcher than Burnett. It is just blowing my mind that Lowe might only get a 3 year, 36 million dollar contract.
All the signs point to him making more, but who will give him more? Almost every mid or large-market contending team on the east coast or the mid west won’t be pursuing him.
- The Yankees officially have no money left to spend, especially not the 12 million per year Lowe will require.
- The Red Sox signed Brad Penny, filling the need for a starter.
- The Phillies have nothing left to spend after signing Jamie Moyer and Raul Ibanez.
- The Cubs would rather have a big bat for right field.
- The Brewers don’t seem willing to make any long term commitments because most of their players’ pay is rising through arbitration.
- The Cardinals don’t view starting pitching as a big need.
- The Tigers, Astros, White Sox, Blue Jays, Twins, and Indians can’t afford him.
So, when you narrow things down, the only suitor for Lowe is the Mets. There is a team, that I haven’t named, however. The Braves are a great fit for Lowe. They play on the East Coast, need a starting pitcher, are a contending team (sometimes), and have the money to spend. I predicted Lowe to sign in Atlanta in my Top 50 Free Agents, and I still love the fit. I don’t understand why there is such a lack of interest. The Braves were not shy at all about pursuing AJ Burnett. They even offered him 5 years, 80 million. If I’m GM Frank Wren, I’m making Lowe an offer of 4 years, 48 million. That would probably get him to accept, and if nothing else it will drive up the price for the Mets. The Braves should definitely get in on Derek Lowe.
As of right now, it looks like Lowe will be in a Met uniform next year. If they get him, they are going to be one hard team to stop. I think they’d win the division with Francisco Rodriguez, JJ Putz, and now Derek Lowe on the team. If they do make the playoffs, watch out! Could you imagine Johan Santana and Derek Lowe pitching 2 games each in a 5 game playoff series. Both pitchers have a lot of playoff experience, and they could pretty much end the game if they could go 7 innings each. That should be no problem for these two. Putz and K-Rod can come in and end the game. Scary!
The Red Sox have made a couple of signings recently. They signed Brad Penny and Josh Bard. Penny will receive 5 million on a 1 year deal with incentives that could tack on another 3 million. Bard will make 1.6 million, but the deal is not guaranteed. I like both of these signings, but I also think that the Red Sox could’ve done better.
Penny brings depth to the BoSox rotation, and he certainly has a lot of up-side. Remember how good he was in 2007? This deal could pay great dividends to Boston, and Penny could really solidify their rotation if he can return to his ’07 form. Even if he just brings an ERA around 4.00, it will be a good buy for only 5 million.
This is a very solid deal by the Red Sox, but I think they could’ve done better. I would’ve pursued Derek Lowe. If they wanted to match the rotations of the Yankees and Rays, they would have had to bring back Lowe. With all of the money they had available, I don’t know why they went the cheap route. The BoSox are pretty much done and they still have about 30 million to spend. Will they cut that much payroll? If it were almost any other team in the league I would like the Penny signing, but since Boston has so few holes and so much to spend, I don’t like it. Lowe would’ve made a lot more sense, especially since there aren’t many teams interested. The Mets seem like the only team aggressively pursuing him. So the bottom line is: I like the Penny signing, but Lowe would’ve been a better choice.
The Bard signing makes more sense. He will be the backup catcher, probably to Jason Varitek. 1.6 million is a fair amount, and Bard has some up-side. He was very good in ’07, and was bad last year only because of injury issues. To me, he was one of, if not the best backup catcher option available after the Padres non-tendered him. Who knows, maybe Bard will break-out and take over as the starting catcher sometime during the year. I like this signing a lot for the Red Sox.
So the Red Sox made a couple nice, cheap signings. However, I still believe that they could’ve done better.
By my calculations, the Mets have around 12 million left to spend after signing Francisco Rodriguez and trading for JJ Putz. With that 12 million, they would like to sign a starting pitcher. Below are some names that they could consider.
Derek Lowe. He seems like their top target. The only question is if they can afford Lowe. His price seems to be dropping now that the Yankees and Phillies are out, but I’m still not convinced that he will get less than 14 million per year. The Reds Sox and Braves make a whole lot of sense even though they haven’t made it public. The only way I see Lowe in a Mets uniform is if they make a trade or two to clear some salary. The problem is, they don’t have any expendable pieces.
Oliver Perez. To me, a return of Oliver Perez is the most likely possibility for the Mets. I don’t think that they can afford Lowe, and I can’t find our any other good suitors for Ollie other than the Mets. I guess the Dodgers could make an inquiry, but they seems more willing to sign a starter like Randy Johnson to a short term deal. Perez is the best option available to the Mets unless they do somehow bring in Lowe. Again, that’s not likely.
Randy Wolf. He makes sense because he is a left handed starter that could come on a 1 year deal. Wolf was very solid last year, and could be a really nice pick-up if he stays healthy. Wolf has got some upside, and I would be willing to take him on if Lowe or Perez cannot be signed.
Jon Garland. You could make the argument that he makes more sense than Wolf. Garland is younger, more durable, and has a better track record. However, Wolf was better last year, has more strike-outs, and is a lefty. I think it will pretty much come down to whomever will come cheaper for a shorter term. Garland would make a solid aquisition to the Mets’ pitching staff.
Jason Marquis. The Cubs have made it known that he is available, and they would probably even toss in some money. Marquis is from New York, will come on a 1 year deal, and is pretty much just as good as Wolf and Garland. If the Cubs bring his salary down to, say 7 million, a deal could be possible.
So, if I was the Mets’ GM Omar Minaya, I would go hard after Lowe and Perez. If both players were pushed out of my budget, I would aquire Wolf, Garland, or Marquis. Since they all are similar pitchers, I would just take on the cheapest one. The remaining money could be used on a cheap fifth starter candidate like Pedro Martinez or Bartolo Colon. You can never have too much pitching depth.
If the Yankees are unable to sign 2 of CC Sabathia, Derek Lowe, and AJ Burnett, they will make an agressive bid for Mark Teixera. Not being able to sign two of those three is a very real possibility, despite what most Yankees’ fans say. Sabathia has pretty much said that he doesn’t want to play for the Yanks by not accepting their 6 year, 140 million offer yet. They seem unwilling to offer Burnett 5 years, but losing CC could change that. Lowe doesn’t want to go to New York either. If they sign one, they still have the money for Tex. I know they traded for Nick Swisher, but he could be moved to center field or to a different team. Tex would certainly fit in nicely in the middle of their lineup. Plus, there is the added bonus of keeping him away from the Red Sox. If the Yanks really want to add payroll they might be able to sign Sabathia, Tex, and Burnett. This could work if it were OK for the payroll to be in the 210 million range like it was last year. Or if they just backloaded contracts this idea could work. Overall, I think they’ll just end up spending their money on starting pitching while letting Tex go somewhere else.
The Red Sox have 30 million to spend without anything to spend it on. Their only holes: catcher and middle reliever. Niether position have superstars available that would take up 30 million. So if the Red Sox fill those holes cheaply, what else will they do? Mark Teixera has been a pretty popular rumor. I like this idea for them because it would take their lineup to a whole new demension while getting protection behind David Ortiz. Ortiz-Tex is just as good of a 3-4 punch as Ortiz-Manny Ramirez. Mike Lowell would have to be traded for this idea to come to fruition, but he should be moveable on a salary dump trade. Some team will take a chance on him. If they strike out on Tex, they could turn to starting pitching. I know that you aren’t hearing any rumors about it, but CC Sabathia could be an intriging free agent for two big reasons. 1: He could make them the unquestioned best team in the MLB, and 2: He won’t become a Yankee. They seem unhappy about the price, though, so don’t expect to see CC in Red Sox next summer. The next tier of starters are all possible. The Sox will be in the bidding for Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett, and Ben Sheets. Lowe has familiarity which makes him the most attractive; you can rest assured he won’t fall apart under the pressure of Boston. Burnett is also a target because the Yankees want him. He could help their team out a ton. If they miss out on Burnett and Lowe, they could turn to Sheets. They might be the best fit for him because it won’t kill them if he gets injured since they have such great depth. It is very possible that they don’t land anyone because they don’t feel they have to overpay since they don’t have a need at any of these positions. It is also possible that they add Teixera and a starter. Let’s say that Tex takes 20 million per year and the starter takes 16 million per. That would be 36 million, but after aquiring Tex they must trade Lowell and his 12 million. If they bring in Teixera along with either Lowe or Burnett, they will be a very tough team to beat in 2009 and should challenge for the world series again, let alone the AL East.
With 28 million to spend and some serious holes, they Mets will be very busy this offseason. Starting pitching, closer, and middle relievers are their holes. There are two directions the team could choose to go in. Here they are.
- Sign Francisco Rodriguez to a 4 year, 52 million dollar deal. K-Rod still breaks a record, just doesn’t get the 75 million he’s been asking for. It takes 13 million per year. With the remaining 15, they sign a middle reliever such as Juan Cruz or Brandon Lyon for 4 million per. That leaves 11 million to aquire a decent back of the rotation starting pitcher. Oliver Perez, Jon Garland, Paul Byrd, Jason Marquis, Edwin Jackson, and Andy Sonnanstine could be options. With any remaining money they sign an extra reliever or just save the money for July.
- Sign Derek Lowe or AJ Burnett for 4 years, 64 million. So 16 million per year. With the extra 12, they sign either Brian Fuentes or Kerry Wood to close. Anything left over is used on middle relievers
So pick whichever one you like best. Note that money could always be moved through a trade of a current reliever. Scott Schoenweis for examle could be traded because of Pedro Feliciano becoming the primary left handed reliever. Duarner Sanchez and Aaron Heliman are trade possibilities, also. The Mets are going to imporve their team to make it a very competitive NL East. The defending champs: the Phillies, of course the Mets, and the Braves whom will likely improve their team a ton through free agency. It should be a lot of fun to watch.
The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.