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Daniels: Lowell deal not yet done

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 10, 2009 10:33 AM

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Theo Epstein fled Indianapolis without speaking to reporters. But Texas GM Jon Daniels was gracious enough to discuss the trade of Mike Lowell for 25-year-old catcher Max Ramirez. The Red Sox are expected to pick up a large portion of the $12 million Lowell has remaining on his contract.

Update 6:08 p.m.:  Daniels conducted a conference call to announce the signing of Rich Harden. He was asked for an update on the status of the Mike Lowell trade.

"I don't have anything new to update you guys on," he said.

Daniels said both teams are exploring other options. So while the parameters of a trade are in place, the trigger hasn't been pulled. It sounds like it could take a few days.

Here more of what Daniels had to say earlier in Indianapolis:

Are there any obstacles?

"I think there's always different layers to these things. Both clubs are kind of evaluating. I think the general parameters are understood. Both clubs need to decide whether it's the right fit."

Is Lowell coming in for a physical?

 "It's premature for me to say that."

How long will it take?

''I don't know. I don't want to put a timetable on it."

Can you address how much money is coming back from Boston?

"There's a financial component to it. I'm not going to address that specifically."

Is there an agreement on the finances?

"The general parameters of the deal and relatively understood. Both clubs know what's on the table. We'll continue to talk here and work through it."

Waiting on the medical reports?

"We're not at that stage. But in any deal we review the medicals as part of it. There's a lot of moving parts. Sometimes I think it's beneficial to step back and take a half-step back and evaluate things.''

* * *

One of the more fascinating aspects of this deal -- should it be completed -- is that it involved two players at vastly different points of their career.

Lowell, 35, played just 119 games last season as he was slowed by injuries, including one to his hip, which was surgically repaired following the 2008 season. Lowell's range and mobility at third base were greatly decreased last season, which is why the Rangers are apparently eyeing him for a 1B/DH role.

Lowell came to the Red Sox more or less as a salary-dump/throw-in in the blockbuster deal that brought Josh Beckett to Boston while sending shortstop Hanley Ramirez and three pitching prospects to Florida in November 2005. 

But Lowell quickly established himself as an essential member of the Red Sox, playing stellar defense at third base and producing consistently in the middle of the lineup. In 2006, he batted .284 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs, bouncing back from .236-8-58 numbers in his final season in Florida.

His best season with the Sox came in 2007, when he batted a career-high .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs, finishing fifth in the AL MVP voting. He continued to excel in the postseason, batting .400 with a homer and four runs batting in the World Series to take MVP honors as the Red Sox won their second championship in four years. That offseason, he was rewarded with a three-year, $37.5 million contract.

As for Ramirez, this will be the third time the 25-year-old, who was signed by the Atlanta Braves in 2002 as an amateur free agent, has been traded in his young career.

In July 2006, Ramírez was sent by the Braves to the Indians for reliever Bob Wickman. Almost exactly a year later, the Indians dealt him to Texas for outfielder Kenny Lofton.

If the Sox do acquire Ramirez, he would serve as a versatile bat off the bench, and they would use him as a designated hitter, first baseman, and catcher. Ramirez has a .299 average in the minors and .398 OBP, but he is not highly regarded behind the plate. According to Baseball America, he was the 84th-best prospect in baseball and the 10th-best in the Rangers organization entering last season.

In 57 plate appearances in the majors, all during the 2008 season, Ramirez has a .217 batting average and a .715 OPS, with two homers and nine RBIs.

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