I`ve said before that I think Derek Lowe is the 2nd best pitcher available. He`s looking for a 5 year deal though (not happening though) for about 18 million dollars a year (possible but he`ll probably get less). Just as an estimate, eyeballing his stats I would say he`s worth 3-4 years at about 14-15 million dollars a year. I`ve been meaning to do a more careful analysis though.
Their is a perception of Lowe as being a middle of the rotation starter who can eat a lot of innings. Most see him as Wang lite. However, in truth he`s been better than Wang over the past three years. Unlike Wang, he can strike guys out to go with that great GB ability. In my opinion, he is every bit the ace that Sheets or Burnett can be when healthy.
Here`s Lowe's RCA's and the runs and innings he should have had based on his K, BB, and batted ball numbers:
2006- 3.50 (81 runs in 209 innings)
2007- 3.26 (69 runs in 190 innings)
2008- 3.34 (74 runs in 199 innings)
These numbers show that Lowe's reputation as an innings eater is well earned. However, during those innings he has pitched like an ace. As compared to the replacement level pitcher:
2006- 5.50 (128 runs in 209 innings)
2007- 5.50 (116 runs in 190 innings)
2008- 5.50 (122 runs in 199 innings)
All of this adds up to make Lowe's monetary value:
2006- 47 runs, 4.7 wins, 25.85 million dollars
2007- 47 runs, 4.7 wins, 25.85 million dollars
2008- 48 runs, 4.8 wins, 26.4 million dollars
All in all those are 3 very similar and very valuable seasons. They`re not quite on the same level as Sabathia but they are very good. The only problem with Lowe is that you can really only expect one, maybe two, more years like that out of him because of his age. After that he should start dropping off. He`s looking for a 5 year deal and teams are looking to give him a 3 year deal. I`d guess that he`ll end up with a 4 year deal with an option for a 5th.
So, figure on one more season like 2006-2008 (worth about 26 million), then a year where he`s declining but still near that level (worth about 20-22 million), and then 2 years where he`s an innings eater but not much more than that, sort of like Pettitte now (worth 16-18 million and 12 million each). That adds up to an estimated total of 70-74 million dollars over 4 years for an average of 17.5-18.5 million dollars per year. This looks to be about what he`ll end up getting, maybe a little less. Considering that salaries are always going up as well, its probably a pretty good deal unless he gets injured, which he has no history of.
Right now I like the idea of a rotation of Sabathia-Lowe-Wang- Pettitte- Joba. With Hughes, Aceves, Kennedy, and Sergio Mitre waiting to fill in for injury. That has the potential for a rotation with four aces and could go head-to-head with anybody else in baseball.