With all of the questions surrounding the fifth starter and the bullpen positions for the Texas Rangers with less than a month before they open the regular season in Houston on March 31, in primetime in front of a national television audience, the Rangers made a move on Wednesday.
No, they didn't sign free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse. They didn't trade for Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello. The move the Rangers made was a little more under the radar but it could be a big one as they signed veteran right-hander Derek Lowe to a one-year minor-league deal that will pay the 39-year-old $1.25 million if he makes the major-league roster (which he will).
Lowe has done just about everything a pitcher can do in his 16 years in the league. He's led the league in saves (42 in 2000), in wins (16 in 2006) in starts (2005, 08, 09 and 11) and, yes, in losses (17 in 2011). He's got almost 100 innings of work in the postseason, including in 2004 when he helped lead the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series title in ages.
It's unclear what role Lowe will fill with the Rangers. Coming in this late with just a few weeks to go before the season begins, it's unlikely he'll be a strong candidate for the up-in-the-air No. 5 rotation spot, but it's not out of the question either. In 17 games as a reliever with the New York Yankees last year (after starting the year in Cleveland as a starter), Lowe posted a 3.04 ERA in 23 2/3 innings.
If anything, Lowe gives the Rangers a strong veteran presence on the pitching staff and could fill a long relief/spot starter role that was filled by Scott Feldman over the past couple of years. Feldman is now a starter with the Chicago Cubs.
Whatever the case, the Rangers got themselves a gamer, and on the cheap. And it's clear now that the Rangers aren't in on Lohse or really even Porcello and seem ready to hand the No. 5 job to Robbie Ross or Randy Wells, at least until Colby Lewis returns.