(UPDATED: 7:40 p.m.)
You can always tell how much a team wants to get rid of a player by how big of a financial hit it is willing to absorb from his contact. The Braves basically just announced: “Feel free to drop that concrete block on our heads — just take Derek Lowe off of our hands.”
It’s done: Lowe is gone.
Lowe, with one year and $15 million left on his ridiculous four-year, $60 million contract, has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for minor-league pitcher Chris Jones. An official announcement is forthcoming.
The Braves reportedly will get a low-level minor-leaguer in return. But this was really all about getting: 1) Lowe, a fallen former starter, out of the rotation and out of the clubhouse; 2) the Indians being willing to pay $5 million of Lowe’s salary next year.
Lowe wasn’t the worst free agent signing in Braves history. For that, he can thank Kenshin Kawakami. And he actually was a solid pitcher at times. He even was the team’s best starter down the stretch and in the postseason in 2010.
But he never was nearly worth the contract the Braves gave him, and he wasn’t even borderline decent in 2011. He had to be gone. General manager Frank Wren felt desperate for pitching help after the 2008 season and, after missing on other starters via trade or free agency, he offered Lowe a longer-term, richer contract than any other team had. Don’t blame Lowe for taking the money, blame Wren for giving it to him.
Although Lowe received “ace” money, he never was the ace of the staff through the season. He evolved into a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation guy, and his implosion this season (9-17, 5.05 earned run average) made it clear that he would not be back with the team.
Wren told our Carroll Rogers: “Once you know what you want to do, you want to get the dominoes falling, and that was the first one.”
The good news for the Braves: This lops $5 million off the payroll, so that should help the budget-conscious organization to land a shortstop and bench help this winter.
By Jeff Schultz