ESPN’s Buster Olney gave us a pair of tweets discussing today’s trade that sent Derek Lowe from Atlanta to Cleveland:
“Atlanta is absorbing all but $5 million of the money owed to Derek Lowe in this; second-line player return going from CLE to ATL.”
“My fault: Chris Jones is the pitcher going from CLE to ATL, not Chris Smith.”
Derek Lowe struggled in 2011, posting a 4.00+ ERA for the third consecutive season. He finished the year going 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and 137 K over 187.0 IP.
Chris Jones is a left-handed relief pitcher who spent the entire season at Single-A in 2011. He went 7-1 with a 3.36 ERA and 66 K over 72.1 IP.
The Professor’s Thoughts:
It is obvious why the Braves wanted to rid themselves of Lowe. Assuming everyone is healthy they will enter the season with Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran as options for the starting rotation. There simply wasn’t a spot for Lowe, who has struggled ever since arriving in Atlanta. For them, getting any salary relief was going to be worth making the move.
From the Indians perspective it gives them a third groundball pitcher (Lowe joins Justin Masterson & Fausto Carmona). They also have to think that, for $5 million, he is well worth the gamble.
In 2011 Lowe posted a 59.0% groundball rate, yet suffered from some poor luck with a .327 BABIP and 65.9% strand rate. Granted, the move to the AL is going to have an impact, but if his luck can improve and he can reduce his walk rate (3.37 BB/9 in ’11 after being at 2.91 or better the previous six seasons) he should be alright.
That’s not to say that he’s going to be an elite option. In fact, he may not even be a usable fantasy option. However, he’s going to be a player worth watching off the waiver wire (or as a late round flier in the deepest of formats).