Starting pitcher Derek Lowe was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, paving the way for other teams around the league to make a move to grab him. In case you’re not familiar with what happens after a player has been DFA’d, within the next 10 days, the Indians have to trade or release the veteran righty who is due $15 million this season. Despite most of that being paid by the Indians already this season, there is no chance anyone trades for him to lose prospects and take on the rest of that contract. The only chance he has is to be picked up by someone after he’s granted his release.
ESPN’s Buster Olney has already posited that the Nats could be interested in Lowe, especially considering that he is a Scott Boras client. The Nats are notorious for their friendly relationship with the baseball super agent with players like Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and Stephen Strasburg under his representation. All that considered, there is little basis for signing Derek Lowe at this point in his career.
Even if the Nats were able to get him for very little money, nothing in Lowe’s statistics over the last two seasons indicate he can still be a MLB-caliber pitcher. He hasn’t posted a sub-5.00 ERA in the past two seasons, and his 5.52 ERA this year is the worst since his rookie season in 1997 in limited action. The same is true for his 4.48 FIP. Lowe has never been a strikeout pitcher, but his 3.10 K/9 is astonishingly low, and his BB/9 is also the second-highest of his career. The last sub-4.00 ERA he had was in 2008, which is now five seasons ago.
Derek Lowe has been a durable and effective pitcher for most of his major league career. While he’s remained durable, throwing at least 187 innings in the last 10 seasons and eclipsing the 200 IP mark in five of them, he is no longer effective. Lowe is the kind of pitcher the Colorado Rockies pick up to help their worst in the majors pitching staff eat up innings. He is not the kind of player a playoff contending baseball team has any business signing.
Even if the team offered him a minor league deal, why would they want to pick up a guy and pay him a million dollars or more when he’s been too ineffective to use at the MLB level while making a postseason push? Insurance and depth isn’t relevant when you know you can’t use him once you get down to his spot comes on the depth charts. The Nats had to sign these types of players in the past just to make it to season’s end, but that’s because they weren’t a good team. That’s no longer the case.