Sabathia deal could benefit Lowe
Several clubs remain interested in veteran right-hander
LAS VEGAS -- The landscape of baseball's offseason officially changed on Wednesday, when the top pitcher on the free agent market decided to cash in and wear pinstripes.
CC Sabathia's record-setting deal played as good news for Derek Lowe, who now steps up in the line of pitchers ready to find new homes and riches as teams continue their never-ending search for pitching assistance.
With a resume of postseason success and a durable reputation, Lowe is one of the better options available this winter. But he also comes armed with the forces of the Scott Boras agency, which ensure two things -- the process will take some time, and Lowe's bank account will be quite healthy by the end of it.
To date, the 35-year-old sinkerballer is thought to be highest on the respective lists of both the Yankees and the Phillies. While Lowe's deal will not approach the seven-year, $161 million landfall Sabathia will soon be free to begin spending, the idea has been floated of a five-year deal in the $80 million range.
More likely, Lowe will score something like what the Yankees have been reported to be pitching -- a four-year deal weighing in at $65 million.
"He has serious interest from a lot of teams, and we're marching through them," Boras said Wednesday. "In New York, you have to do well, and do well in key situations.
"His performance in postseasons adds to his appeal not only for the Yankees, but other teams as well. He's looking for a contending club, but certainly a number of [interested] teams fill that bill."
Last week, Lowe spoke about the opportunity to add to his list of postseason experiences as a major factor in deciding on a destination. Surely, the Yankees' dreams for '09 lead to October, and no one has forgotten that the scent of champagne is stained into the carpet of the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.
"With me, it's all about winning," Lowe said. "The team with the best chance of winning, year in and year out, is where I want to go. Scott understands that. I've already had clubs contact us that are interested, but they're not ready to win.
"Scott knows that's my No. 1 priority, and he's looking out for my best interest. He's done exactly what I've been talking about."
Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed that his club has engaged with Lowe and Boras, but declined to comment on the reported asking price. He also noted that signing Lowe could halt the Phillies from executing other moves.
"We've talked to Lowe, we've talked to his representative," Amaro Jr. said this week. "I can't characterize that discussion and where we stand on it. We like Derek Lowe and we like a variety of pitchers out there. He's not the only guy we like."
The Phillies are in the market for a pitcher because veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer is a free agent and appears no closer to returning to the defending World Series champions than he was when the Winter Meetings started.
The Mets had also shown some level of interest in Lowe, but they have been occupied with restocking a bullpen that appears much improved after tacking on both Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz in a busy session.
Other chips may need to fall to force the action. If the Yankees or another club swipes A.J. Burnett off the market, the Braves could join the mix, though they are reported to have little interest at this time.
The Yankees may actually push harder for Lowe than Burnett, particularly because of Lowe's durability and Burnett's spotty injury history. New York is involved with both pitchers and could use a No. 2 or No. 3 starter after signing Sabathia to a record-setting seven-year, $161 million package this week.
They have engaged with Boras, but are by no means limiting their interactions. New York has sent out feelers also to the representative for Ben Sheets and remain interested in retaining Andy Pettitte, but not at a $10 million price tag.
Sheets' injury record and Pettitte's second-half struggles in 2008 also concern the Yankees, which would draw them even more to Lowe.
Sources close to Lowe have mentioned that he holds the idea of re-joining the Red Sox with some appeal, though their interest has been muted because general manager Theo Epstein's focus is on Mark Teixeira.
One thing that appears certain is that Lowe will not be back in Los Angeles come April. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said that he is prepared to move on without Lowe in the fold, saying, "I don't believe Derek Lowe will pitch for the Dodgers next year."
But he will pitch somewhere, and that question will eventually be answered.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Ken Gurnick and Barry Bloom contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.