Friday, February 8, 2013

Dodgers sign Mark Lowe and move Chris Withrow, Pedro Baez to the 'pen

The Dodgers and Mark Lowe had basically been dancing around for a couple weeks and finally came to an agreement on Friday.

If Lowe makes the team as a non-roster invitee, he'll earn a $1.5 million base salary. With incentives, he could earn $2.1 million.

Lowe's 2012, despite a nice ERA (3.43), didn't really pitch all that well. His 4.32 FIP was on the high side and his groundball rate dipped considerably compared to his career rate. Despite giving up just five home runs, he did so in 39 1/3 innings, for a HR/FB rate of 9.4 percent, which is just average.

Lowe is much more effective against right-handed hitters than lefties in his career:
  • vs. RHP: .234/.309/.330, six home runs allowed in 615 plate appearances
  • vs. LHP: .287/.361/.504, 22 home runs allowed in 534 plate appearances
The data suggest Lowe should be a ROOGY, if he even makes the team. The Dodgers already have a potentially full bullpen, as well as a guy like Peter Moylan, who is also a non-roster invitee.

This is a low-risk signing for the Dodgers. If Lowe is right, he could be a nice weapon against righties out of the bullpen.

Baez and Withrow now relievers

The Dodgers moved two prospects to the bullpen this week. One is former first-round pick Chris Withrow. The big righty out of Texas, who was once among the Dodgers' best prospects, has not been able to find the strike zone consistently enough as a starter. He pitched in relief last year and had better success.

Withrow has a mid-to-high-90s fastball that, if he can locate it, will do great out of the bullpen. He pairs a slider with the potentially plus fastball. He also has a changeup that is seldom used and he's all but scrapped his curveball.

The more interesting move -- and it's been a long time coming -- is Pedro Baez moving to the bullpen. To be more specific, he's moving from third base to the mound. He's following the career path of Kenley Jansen (even though he was a catcher) and has the arm strength to do it.

Baez was once, reportedly, clocked at 94 MPH across the diamond -- from third to first base. If the Dodger minor-league pitching coaches can get him to harness that arm talent and develop even a fringy-average secondary offering, he could be a nice piece. However, he could be a few years off. He's already 25, so he's four years behind Jansen in that regard.

One thing's for sure: the Dodgers have no shortage of right-handed, power relievers in the minors.

Photo credits
Lowe: Keith Allison, Flickr
Withrow: SD Dirk, Flickr

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