Could The Phillies Still Get Derek Lowe?

The New York Mets are looking for help in their starting rotation and have Derek Lowe at the top of their list. The Phillies re-signed Jamie Moyer and have brought in Chan Ho Park, but are they done? Could Derek Lowe be a Phillie?

Three years and $36 million wasn't even worth considering for Derek Lowe. The Mets offered the former Dodgers pitcher that deal, hoping that he would be having a weak moment and accept the low-ball offer. With Scott Boras as his agent, there was no way that Lowe was going to accept that deal. However, Lowe is unlikely to get the kind of money that he was initially looking to get through free agency - something in the neighborhood of six years and close to $100 million - and his price could drop down to a level that the Phillies could afford.

So, just how far has Lowe dropped from his initial demands? Reports are that he wants a minimum of four years and is looking for something in the area of $15 million per year.

Lowe's agent has played his usual "mystery team" card, hinting that the Mets would have competition in bidding for Lowe. The Yankees have insisted that they're not in on the bidding, but then again, they weren't mentioned highly in the bidding for Mark Teixeira until the very end. The Red Sox recently signed Brad Penny and while he's no Derek Lowe, it's not clear that Boston would be that mystery team, either. So, could the Phillies be the mystery team?

The Phillies aren't likely to feel that four years and $60 million is in their best interest, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't be that mystery team?

Officially, the Phillies aren't necessarily looking for another starter. With Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton set for the first four spots in the rotation and then a group of pitchers - Chan Ho Park, J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Adam Eaton and Carlos Carrasco - all in contention for the fifth spot, the Phillies figure that they're pretty well set in the rotation. But, if they could add Lowe, the rotation would take a big step forward and there is reason to believe that the Phillies could potentially get involved.

Four Years? The Phillies would probably figure to want to avoid adding that fourth year, but with the Mets offer of three years, it's likely that Lowe will look to get that fourth year guaranteed. The best that the Phillies could hope for would be to guarantee three years and give a fourth year, vesting option.

At 35, Lowe isn't likely to get anything past four years and it's easy to see why some teams would be hesitant to guarantee that fourth year. However, Lowe doesn't appear to be slowing, based on how well he pitched for the Dodgers in 2008.

$15 million per year? CC Sabathia got $23 million per year from the New York Yankees. In this market, players are judged Lowe will be measured against Sabathia, so let's do the math. Keep in mind, that Sabathia is 28, while Lowe is 35.

Sabathia - 2008* 17 10 2.70 35 35 10 253.0 223 85 76 19 59 251 1.12 .237
Lowe - 2008 14 11 3.24 34 34 1 211.0 194 84 76 14 45 147 1.13 .246
Sabathia - career 117 73 3.66 254 254 26 1659.1 1541 731 674 150 523 1393 1.12 .247
Lowe - career 126 107 3.75 533 255 9 1940.1 1915 925 809 156 546 1275 1.27 .257

*CC Sabathia's 2008 stats combine his numbers from both Cleveland and Milwaukee.

While Sabathia's numbers are certainly superior, Lowe provides a formidable comparison for him. Lowe has never sought the type of salary that Sabathia commanded, but clearly, he's worth more than the $12 million per season that the Mets had offered, especially when you consider that pitchers such as Kyle Lohse have gotten close to what the Mets offer was to Lowe.

So, what about A.J. Burnett, who was able to get five years and $16.5 million per year - $82.5 million total - deal from the Yankees. How do Lowe and Burnett compare?

Burnett - 2008 18 10 4.07 35 34 1 221.1 211 109 100 19 86 231 1.34 .248
Lowe - 2008 14 11 3.24 34 34 1 211.0 194 84 76 14 45 147 1.13 .246
Burnett - career 87 76 3.81 215 211 19 1376.1 1199 645 583 122 568 1278 1.28 .235
Lowe - career 126 107 3.75 533 255 9 1940.1 1915 925 809 156 546 1275 1.27 .257

At 31, Burnett is four years younger than Lowe, giving him a little more inherant value because of his age. By the numbers though, it's easy to see that Lowe could certainly warrant coming close to Burnett's contract, and would be reasonable to ask for $15 million per year.

The Bottom Line Figuring that Lowe will command an absolute bottom line of three years and $45 million, his price will likely stay above where the Phillies would want to go to sign Lowe. Perhaps the Phillies will be spurred on by the Mets pursuit of Lowe, but aren't likely to be serious contenders to sign Lowe.

If the Phillies are going to add another starter, it's much more likely that they'll wait to do some bargain shopping, perhaps on a pitcher like Paul Byrd or Jon Garland.

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