Chance of Lowe is Low
Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Derek Lowe would prefer to stay on the West Coast, and “…teammates say he has little interest in playing for the Mets or Yankees.”
(Hat tips to ‘Ropolitans and Isuzudude for the link)
Of course, money can change most people’s minds about geography. Everyone has their price.
But, I don’t think the Mets are willing to overpay for Lowe, and doubt they were going to make a big run for him anyway. Lowe might demand a 4-year, $50M deal or larger, and for that kind of dough and term length the Mets might prefer to keep the more youthful Oliver Perez around, or sign the 28-year-old Jon Garland.
As mentioned on MLB Trade Rumors (hat tip to Micalpalyn), the Mets will have a payroll around $110M after arbitration. If they plan to stick to the $138M payroll they operated under in this past year, that means they’ll have about $30M to play with. But that’s a big “if”. For all we know, the Wilpons may want to stay around $120M. Certainly, there’s no reason for them to expand their budget with Citi Field a guarantee to be a profit center regardless of the team’s success or failure. They have at least two years to coast on the “honeymoon effect” of the new ballpark.
We’ve already heard hints that the Mets won’t go after K-Rod, so the highest-priced closer they might sign would be Brian Fuentes, who will probably cost in the $7-10M per year range. It’s a good bet the Mets won’t make a big splash and sign a big-name — i.e., CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez — but instead sign a few a second-level veterans and pick a few projects off the scrap heap.
There’s also the consideration of Perez — at 26, is he worth locking up long term? — and Pedro Martinez. From a performance standpoint, Pedro has been a bust, but behind the scenes, a leader and an unofficial pitching coach. Might the Mets give him an incentive-laden, one-year deal to come back as a fifth starter? If so, then they probably don’t need to sign a Lowe or Perez or any other expensive starter, but make a competition among Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and Aaron Heilman for the #4. Niese and Parnell, after all, are the untouchables who couldn’t be included in a deal for innings-eater Joe Blanton, so they must be considered serious candidates for the 2009 team. I threw Heilman into the mix as wishful thinking.
Personally, I do think the Mets need to sign someone as a potential #2 or #3 — be it Ollie, Lowe, Garland, Ryan Dempster, or Brad Penny. But I get the feeling that Perez and/or Garland will be the targets, rather than Lowe.