I like Derek Lowe as a baseball player. He’s quietly been an excellent pitcher for several seasons without much notoriety. Still, I think Scott Boras is a bit optimistic in his contract expectations for Lowe.
Boras, according to executives with two different teams interested in Derek Lowe, is telling clubs he wants “a Zito-type contract” for the free-agent right-hander.
That’s Zito, as in Barry Zito, as in seven years, $126 million.
Derek Lowe is a better pitcher than Barry Zito, but in June he’s going to be 36 years old—a year older than the age Zito will be when his contract ends. I expect that Lowe will pitch well for a few more seasons, and I think he deserves a hefty payday; but, $18 million a seasons for seven years is a bit much to expect.
For a seven-year deal, I have Lowe looking at around $14 million season. Given that my predictions appear to be undershooting the pitching market this year—I’m used to overshooting—$18 million a year may not be to far of a stretch. However, no team should give a player this old—he’s the same age I am (gasp!)—a contract of this length. I’d go no longer than four years, and that’s pushing it. Some guys have pitched well into their forties, but it’s not a good gamble. And not to be too hard on Boras, this is all part of the negotiating process.
And though I’m a market efficiency guy, I think the pitching market is a bit out of whack right now. If I had an ace pitcher and didn’t plan to contend soon—see the Padres—I’d be selling right now.
Aside: I was looking back at an old post where I estimated Zito was worth about $17 million a season. This was one of the first estimates I ever did, and I have revised my method significantly. That estimate doesn’t fit with the numbers I have now. I just wanted to acknowledge this in case someone stumbles across the old numbers.