Dodgers, Astros discuss Carlos Lee. Jed Lowrie to stay put.

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Update 3: Rosenthal indicates that right-hander Garrett Gould could be the primary return if Carlos Lee is dealt to the Dodgers. Again, it’s highly unlikely Zach Lee would be involved in such a trade.

Update 2: Olney confirms that it’s Carlos Lee that the Dodgers and Astros are discussing at the moment. Previous talks did involve Lowrie, but he’s no longer involved. Olney still puts the odds of a deal at 50-50.

If traded, Lee would take over as the Dodgers’ primary first baseman, leaving James Loney without much of a role. The Astros could take Loney back in such a deal for salary purposes, but they’re primarily interested in acquiring pitchers.

Update 1: Sources tell FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal that the talks involve Carlos Lee, not Lowrie, which would also seem to suggest that Zach Lee is not involved. The Dodgers won’t be giving up top prospects for Carlos Lee, that’s for sure. Also, Carlos Lee has a partial no-trade clause and could choose to block a deal.

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ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Astros and Dodgers are discussing a deal that would send shortstop Jed Lowrie to Los Angeles for two of the team’s top pitching prospects: right-handers Zach Lee and Garrett Gould.

A source told Olney it’s about 50-50 to get done and there could be other names involved.

Lowrie, who didn’t play Thursday against the Cubs, leads all major league shortstops with 14 homers this year and is hitting .262/.350/.492 overall. The Astros acquired him and right-hander Kyle Weiland from the Red Sox for Mark Melancon over the winter.

Lee rates as the Dodgers’ best prospect. Given a $5.25 million bonus two years ago to keep him away from an LSU football scholarship, he’s gone 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA and a 59/13 K/BB ratio in 61 1/3 innings in the minors this season. 12 of his 13 starts came at high-A Rancho Cucamonga, but he was just promoted to Double-A. He was recently picked for the U.S. team in the Futures Game.

Gould, a 2009 second-round pick, is 1-6 with a 5.14 ERA and a 72/24 K/BB ratio in 72 innings for Rancho Cucamonga. While Lee could have a future as a No. 2 starter if things break right, Gould is probably more of a No. 4.

It’d seem to be a very good return for the Astros. Lowrie is having a terrific season, but he has a long injury history and he’s a bit below average defensively at shortstop. Cashing him in while his value is at its highest would be a nice move.

As for the Dodgers, Lowrie would certainly give the offense a boost if he keeps hitting like this. It’d be interesting to see what they’d do with him, though. Making him the regular shortstop and sending down Dee Gordon for additional season would make sense, but the team could also choose to use him at third over Juan Uribe and Jerry Hairston Jr.

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.