Given that Derek Lowe is coming off the worst season of his career last year at the age of 39, it’s not exactly a surprise that the free agent have not been linked to too many potential suitors this off-season.
The Colorado Rockies, though, are one such team who is interested in the veteran right-hander – they just don’t want him at the price of a major league deal.
There are good reasons for that. Lowe, a long-time workhorse in the league, has seen a significant drop off in his numbers over the last couple of years, posting two straight seasons with an ERA above 5.00 and a WHIP over 1.62. His BAA has trended upwards over the last three years, and he lost his status as a starter when he was traded mid-season to the New York Yankees as a reliever.
The move yielded better numbers (3.04/1.26 ERA/WHIP in 23.2 IP), but the fact remains that Lowe’s numbers have been trending the wrong way for some time, and his already paltry strikeout totals fell off the cliff last season, as the 16-year veteran managed a measly 3.47 K/9, easily a career-low.
In fact, if it weren’t for Lowe’s sustained ability to induce ground balls, you’d be right to wonder how he would ever get anybody out at all.
Yet, that ground-ball ability is exactly what the Rockies are looking for, as they have been leaning towards pitchers that can help neutralize the fly-ball friendliness of Coors Field. Lowe is a prototypical groundballer who could fit that mold, whether as a starter of reliever.
The righty, on the other hand, wants to start again, and is waiting on a potential offer to come in before he takes a minor league deal with the Rockies:
Given the Rockies’ past history with pitchers (like the ambitious four-man rotation experiment last season), it’s understandable why any free-agent pitcher, even one who is headed towards the tail end of his career like Lowe, would wait before walking into the thin air in Colorado – it’s simply not the most ideal place for a pitcher to succeed.
But where would such a place be for Lowe? He has been a terrible starting pitcher over the last couple of years, and will be turning 40 in June next year. It’s doubtful that any team will simply hand him a starting job, let alone a guaranteed major league contract to do so at this point of his career.
If there’s any value left in Lowe’s arm, it’s likely as a reliever. The Yankees could be in play being that he had success there, but his best chance – if there is a chance – to start will probably be with Colorado, even if it’s on a minor deal.
For now, though, he will wait; it’s a sensible move as long as he can still afford to, though it probably won’t be very long until the options for Lowe are reduced to one.