Report: Several Teams Talking To Derek Lowe

Russell Martin (left), Derek Lowe (center) and...
Image via Wikipedia’s Jon Heyman is reporting today that the Mets are falling behind in the negotiations with free agent starter Derek Lowe. Last week the New York Times reported that the Mets made an initial offer of 3-years/$36 million to Lowe.

Since then, Heyman writes, that the Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Angels, and Red Sox have engaged in talks with Lowe’s agent Scott Boras. Heyman says that the Braves aren’t likely to better the Mets offer, and the Phillies still have Adam Eaton’s spot in the rotation to fill. The Angels already have solid starters but haven’t re-signed Jon Garland.

I think the Brewers are the most likely destination for Lowe. They were ready to spend big money on CC Sabathia. And they haven’t re-signed Ben Sheets. They’re in severe need of a number one starter. They could get Lowe for half of the $100 million they offered to Sabathia and still be in decent shape.

The Brewers just have a greater need for Lowe than the Mets do. Although the Mets have a bigger wallet, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to use it on a pitcher that will be 36 years old next season. I like Lowe but I wouldn’t go to $80 million for him, as he’s reported to be looking for. The Mets will be just fine with Randy Wolf, Ben Sheets, or Jon Garland joining Santana, Maine, and Pelfrey. The fifth spot in the rotation could be settled in a spring training competition between Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Nelson Figueroa, Pedro Martinez, or Freddy Garcia. The fact is that the Mets only need the fifth starter probably twice during the month of April. They have plenty of time to settle that position in the rotation.

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Mets Won’t Offer Lowe Fourth Year

Once again Jack Curry of the New York Times comes up with some seemingly solid information about the negotiations between the Mets and free agent pitcher Derek Lowe. Apparently, Curry is talking to someone with inside knowledge about the Mets strategy in dealing with Lowe and his agent Scott Boras,

Curry says, definitively, that the Mets won’t offer Lowe a fourth year. Currently, the Mets offer stands at 3-years/$36 million. The money will be a topic of negotiation but not the years.

I can understand the Mets reluctance to give more years to Lowe considering that he’ll be 36 years old next season. But Lowe has been durable. He’s pitched at least 182 innings/season since 2002. That was his first season as a starter.

If I were Omar Minaya, I wouldn’t get too hung up on three years. A vesting team option for the fourth year should be acceptable. Maybe they could look to vest the fourth year if Lowe averages 190+ innings over years two and three of the contract, or something along those lines.

Mets Offer Derek Lowe Contract

Jack Curry of the New York Times is reporting today that the Mets made an offer to Derek Lowe. It’s no surpise that he’s the pitcher the Mets are after right now. Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez, and Randy Wolf are still available as free agents as well. But Lowe is the best starting pitcher on the market.

Curry reports that the offer is a 3-year/$36 million contract. Lowe will be 36 years old next season so it makes sense to keep the contract to three years or fewer.

Lowe is reported to be seeking a 5-year/$90 million contract. So the Mets are pretty far from Lowe’s desired deal. The Red Sox and Phillies are also reported to be interested in Lowe. But it’s difficult to tell how interested they are. The Red Sox just signed Brad Penny to a one year deal. So they may not go after another starter.

I’m completely on board with this signing, especially if Omar Minaya can keep the contract to just three years. I would even go to four years, but there’s no way that I’d go to five. Lowe is probably going to get closer to the $50 million range than the $90 million that he’s seeking.

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Report: Mets And Lowe In Talks

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04:  Derek Lowe #23 of the ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This story from Yahoo writer Gordon Eades really got a lot of press yesterday. Eades reports that the Mets and Derek Lowe’s agent are in “deep negotiations” for Lowe to come to New York.

It’s the typical story without substance that happens this time of year. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman have mastered the art of reporting rumors. It sounds like Eades is trying to make a splash by using the language “deep negotiations” in the story.

I’m sure that Omar Minaya has kicked the tires on Lowe. But I suspect that Lowe will end up back in Boston. Now that the Yankees have landed Mark Teixeira, Boston will need to start collecting some big-time players. Lowe is the best pitcher left on the market, so Boston should go hard after him.

Mets fans, don’t get your hopes up about Lowe coming to Queens. I suspect he’ll be back in Boston again next season.

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Mets Have Options For Rotation

It isn’t news to a fan of the New York Mets that they have at least one hole to fill in the rotation. The Mets have a solid three starters in Johan Santana, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey. Jon Niese offers a possible alternative as a fifth starter as well.

Niese went 1-1 in three starts last season including a brilliant eight-inning start against the Braves on September 13th, giving up no runs. But he did get hit hard in his two other starts against the Brewers and Cubs resulting in a 7.07 ERA. He’s got potential but it wouldn’t be wise to bank on him to hold down a spot in the rotation.

The top of the Mets shopping list has to be Derek Lowe. But Oliver Perez and Ben Sheets offer interesting alternatives. We know all about the inconsistent Perez. But he did seem to fare well under the tuteledge of pitching coach Dan Warthen last season.

Lowe and Sheets are both Type A free agents and were offered arbitration by their teams. So the Mets will have to give up draft picks to sign them. The Mets already gave up draft picks to sign Francisco Rodriguez, so that will make it tougher to stomach signing Lowe or Sheets.

Jon Garland is an interesting option. He’s a Type B free agent that was offered arbitration by the Angels. He’s an innings-eater and a consistent performer. Tim Redding and Brad Penny are available as well and wouldn’t cost any draft picks.

Randy Wolf has been rumored to be flirting with the Mets. But he’s wanted to stay on the West Coast for several years. He’s even taken one year deals to stay in Los Angeles and San Diego. I think he’s using the Mets to get a better offer out west.

The list of starters available to vie for the fifth spot in the rotation is pretty long. It includes names like Pedro Martinez, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Mark Mulder, and Mark Prior. The Mets may sign Pedro to a one year deal. But for anyone else it’ll be a race to see who the Mets can get to accept a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. They can have a competition in spring training with Niese.

Although the Mets seem to be moving slowly to shore up the rotation, there are plenty of options to fill the one or two spots available. I expect the Mets to announce a signing soon after the new year.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Explaining Type A and B MLB Free Agents

If you’ve ever wondered how Major League Baseball determines the categories for free agency, here’s the column for you to read from Marty Noble does a great job of explaining how MLB determines the categories for free agents and the impact it could have on the Mets decision-making this off-season.

Specifically, Derek Lowe and Brian Fuentes are examined. Their status as Type A free agents could hinder the Mets motivation to pursue them. The recent success of teams like the Rays have shed light on how to build a successful team through the draft.

Mets 2008 Off-Season Needs: Starting Pitching

You probably thought my next off-season needs post would be the bullpen. Yes, that post is coming soon. It’s almost too much to think about though. So for now, let’s talk about the starting pitching situation.

Returning starters Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine will be in the rotation. Santana is a shut-down ace and really requires no further discussion. He’ll be starting on opening day in Cincinnati, period. Pelfrey had a break out season in 2008 and should be the #2 behind Santana. He seemed to run out of gas a bit in September but really found himself in May.

John Maine is coming off shoulder surgery to address a bone spur. He’s cleared to start throwing again in December and should be fine for spring training. I really thought he was going to have a break out season after being nearly unhittable in spring training. But the injuries really damaged his season.

Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez will both be free agents after the World Series ends. I don’t expect to see Pedro back again. And Ollie will probably get a better offer than he’s worth from someone other than the Mets. If Omar Minaya can make a decent deal with Ollie and Scott Boras (doubtful) in the neighborhood of 3-years/$27 million, he should take it. But I think some team out there will go to four or five years for Ollie because he’s only going to be 27 years old during the 2009 season.

That leaves two openings to be filled in the rotation. Expect Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell to get a shot to compete for one of those spots in spring training. One of those two promising minor leaguers should get a chance to occupy the #5 spot in the rotation.

The Mets will probably look to fill a #4 spot from free agency and take a chance on a “project” starter as insurance in case Niese and Parnell aren’t ready for the majors yet. You can see the complete list of starters that will be free agents next month at MLB Trade Rumors. Beyond CC Sabathia (17-10 2.70) and Ben Sheets (13-9 3.09), the list isn’t really that impressive. Don’t expect the Mets to splurge on another ace like those two. They got Johan Santana last off-season. So I don’t see the Mets making another huge financial commitment to a starter.

A.J. Burnett (18-10 4.07) will probably opt out of his Blue Jays contract. But he’ll be looking for a long-term deal and I don’t expect the Mets to get into a 4+ year deal with any pitchers at this point.

There are several guys that could fit nicely into the middle of the rotation like Derek Lowe (14-11 3.24). Despite the rumors that he doesn’t want to be on the east coast again, he’ll go where the money is. He’ll be 36 years old next season but he could certainly fill the spot in the middle of the rotation. Jon Garland (14-8 4.90) and Ryan Dempster (17-6 4.51) are certainly worth talking to about a three year contract as well.

The “project” pitcher that the Mets pick up on a one-year deal could be anyone from Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, or Sidney Ponson. The tricky part will be finding a pitcher that will agree to a minor league contract so the Mets can give Parnell and Niese a legitimate shot at the fifth spot in the rotation. Colon and Clement seem the most likely candidates to agree to start the season in the minors.

Even with Pedro and Ollie probably leaving there are plenty of free agent options available this off-season. I certainly wouldn’t like to see the Mets get into a contract longer than three years for a middle of the rotation starter. That should be the key criteria, even if the contract has to get into the $33 million plus range. Gil Meche and Ted Lilly both got five year deals, so that throws off the market. But the Mets really need to keep their contracts to as short a term as possible.

Add a comment below with your thoughts.

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