Hot Stove 2010: Lowell traded to the Rangers


Reports out early this morning state that Mike Lowell has been traded to the Texas Rangers for C/1B prospect Max Ramirez. The Red Sox have agreed to pay $9M of Lowell’s salary for 2010 as part of the deal, which is waiting for both players to pass physicals, as well as the commissioner’s approval. The biggest hurdle will probably be Lowell’s physical exam.

Wow. I was very skeptical about the rumors the past few days, and I didn’t even bother writing anything about it. So you can imagine how shocked I was to hear that Lowell had been traded. Lowell is offensively still fairly viable, but his defense and baserunning really fell off a cliff last season following reconstructive hip surgery. That was a factor in the poor team defense last year, in which the Sox went from very good in 2008 to well below average in 2009 by every defensive metric.

I do want to express my gratitude for Lowell’s contributions on and off the field for our team, and sorry it didn’t work out well for either side. The Rangers are in dire financial straits, which explains all the money changing hands. They are in need of a quality DH, and wouldn’t mind picking up someone who could also play 3B and maybe even 1B while providing strong clubhouse leadership for a young team. They also have enough catchers for the time being, so this move makes some sense for them.

Ramirez plays a catcher on TV, but despite being a bit undersized he is probably going to become a 1B/DH type in the future. He is seen as a good hitting prospect, but he suffered a setback year in 2009 with two wrist injuries; this is another buy low scenario for Theo Epstein. There is some speculation that the Sox could also turn around and send Ramirez somewhere as part of a package for a big bat.

Boston has a few options to fill in the hole at third base, and it is also being reported that they have strong interest in Adrian Beltre, the top free agent at the position. He is a type B free agent and a Scott Boras client. Known for his superlative defense, the 30-year old Beltre is rumored to want a four year deal worth somewhere between $10-13M per year, but my guess is that he will fall well short of that, given his poor 2009 production. Alternatively, the Sox could easily sign or trade for a 1B and move Kevin Youkilis back to third base. We’ll address the options in an upcoming post detailing 1B and 3B options.

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