Trade Central: Indians Strike First
By John Verburg
With the off-season really getting going today (free agents can be signed), the Tigers Central Division foe, the Cleveland Indians, fired the first off-season bullet today and acquired Derek Lowe in a trade from the Atlanta Braves. Lowe, who is 38, was part of a logjam in the Atlanta Braves rotation who were looking for salary relief. By acquiring Lowe, the Indians also acquire $5M in salary, as the Braves agreed to pay 10M of Lowe’s 15M dollar salary. In return the Indians send fringe prospect Chris Jones, who is a left-handed reliever.
So, what does this mean to the Tigers?
The first thing it shows is that the Indians are looking to get aggressive this off-season in an attempt to compete for the division title in 2012. While Lowe does seem to be declining in skill, there is no doubt that this is a pretty low risk move by the Indians. The only thing they are potentially losing here is 5M in salary. In other words, Lowe is worth the shot the Indians are giving him.
Although I didn’t see something like this coming, it does make some sense for Cleveland. Carlos Carrasco is going through Tommy John surgery, and that had left a hole in the rotation. Given that the Indians dealt last season for Ubaldo Jimenez, they no doubt want to add some pieces to help Jimenez and fill out the rotation. Lowe is just a piece to try and add for one year to help Jimenez out.
Overall, the last two seasons haven’t been too kind to Derek Lowe. Pitching in the more friendly National League, Lowe has had an ERA of 4.52 the past two seasons with a 25-29 record. Even though he has experience, his last real good season came more than 3 years ago with the Dodgers. Going back to the American League at this point in his career could be a disaster. Frankly, his stuff is pretty easy to hit. His WHIP of 1.508 last year can attest to that, and he doesn’t walk a ton. He essentially was slated to be a middle reliever this season for the Braves.
I have to believe that the Indians think that Lowe could potentially regain some of his mojo with a return to the American League. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. We will have to see. I do know that the Indians had better have some good infield defense, given that Lowe is a ground ball pitcher, as well as Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona, who they just picked up the option on.
I don’t see this move really affecting the Tigers all that much. It’s not like Lowe at this point in his career is going to make opposing hitters worry. If this was 7 or 8 years ago, maybe. Still, it’s a solid move by the Indians, and at the very least, Lowe should be a capable replacement for Carrasco.