Free-agent right-hander Derek Lowe agreed to terms with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday morning, according to sources close to the negotiations. The deal is for four years and $60 million with no option, a source said.
The Braves – who already added Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami to their rotation and lost John Smoltz from it this offseason – have transformed their rotation by adding the reliable Lowe. They also outbid the New York Mets, their NL East division rivals, who offered $36 million over three years weeks ago but hadn't appeared to go much higher despite ongoing negotiations.
Lowe, 35, averaged more than 200 innings over the past seven seasons, the last four with the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom his ERA was never higher than 3.88. His run support was inconsistent, and his record in L.A. was 54-48.
Braves general manager Frank Wren made the rotation a priority after the club failed to make the postseason for the third consecutive season. However, he pulled out of trade talks with the Padres for Jake Peavy, was outbid by the Yankees for A.J. Burnett and underestimated the Red Sox' interest in Smoltz. He also believed he had a deal for shortstop Rafael Furcal, only to have the Dodgers make a stronger play at the end.
Lowe's sinkerball has served him particularly well in the postseason, when his ERA is 3.33 over 83 2/3 innings. He joins Jair Jurrjens, Jorge Campillo, Vazquez and Kawakami in the Braves' starting rotation.
- Kenshin Kawakami