A few recognizable names have been designated for assignment in the past few days, including outfielder Bobby Abreu and first baseman Lyle Overbay.
But the one that can most easily be connected to the Orioles is right-hander Derek Lowe, whom the Cleveland Indians designated Wednesday after he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night. For the season – which was excellent followed by disastrous for Lowe – the sinkerballer is 8-10 with a 5.52 ERA.
Lowe, 39, has just too many connections to the current Orioles not to be a serious target. As one club official said, "It makes a whole lot of sense."
Current Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette traded for Lowe in 1997 (from the Seattle Mariners along with Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb) and Lowe helped the Red Sox win the World Series championship in 2004.
Current Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich was the guy who recommended Lowe to Duquette at the time of the trade.
But more important, for the past 15 years, Lowe has worked with pitching mechanics specialist Chris Correnti, basically employing Correnti as his personal pitching coach. They work together every offseason.
Correnti now is employed by the Orioles and is in Sarasota as the club's rehab pitching coordinator. Lowe and Correnti are expected to meet this week in Fort Myers, Fla., where Lowe lives, to work on mechanics while Lowe is in limbo, waiting 10 days for the Indians to trade, release or ask waivers on him.
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Lowe was owed $15 million this year, but the Atlanta Braves picked up $10 million when they dealt him to Cleveland last October. That means the Indians are only on the line for roughly $1.7 million for the remainder of the season. That's a figure that probably won't scare the Orioles.
Lowe started out the season impressively, going 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA in eight starts. In his past 13, however, he has gone 2-9 with an 8.28 ERA. The Orioles have roughed him up twice in the last five weeks, scoring 14 runs (11 earned) in just 8 1/3 innings in his past two starts against them (June 29 in Baltimore; July 20 in Cleveland).
However, the Orioles are looking for a veteran innings eater with experience and were in deep negotiations to acquire Philadelphia's Joe Blanton at Tuesday's trade deadline before talks broke down. The Orioles did not want to pay the $3 million remaining on Blanton's salary and give up a player, especially considering Blanton's tendency to give up homers and his less-than-stellar track record at Camden Yards and against the AL East.
If Lowe can figure things out, he may be a better fit. He's a groundball pitcher (he's allowed just eight homers this year) and knows the treacherous AL East. He is 34-34 with a 4.67 ERA in 159 games against the East; Blanton, in comparison, was 11-15 with a 5.18 ERA in 39 starts versus the East.
Lowe also may generate some interest from the Red Sox, for whom he played eight seasons and still has great affection. When asked if he'd like to return to Boston, Lowe told the Boston Globe, "Of course, I would."
But with his personal pitching mechanic employed by the Orioles, you would think he'd consider Baltimore if given the chance.
If the Indians can't make a trade and decide to place him on regular waivers – he's off the 40-man roster so does not have to go through trade waivers -- it's possible Lowe gets claimed given what's left of his salary is not exorbitant in baseball terms. If he clears, he can choose whichever club he wants, and that team would be required to only pay the prorated minimum – which would be roughly $160,000 or so.