Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins Vying for Mike Lowell?

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Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins Vying for Mike Lowell?
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Mlbtraderumors.com reports that the Twins and Rangers are the two teams rumored to be most interested in acquiring Mike Lowell from the Red Sox.  Makes sense to me.

The Rangers were reported to have strong interest in Lowell this offseason, but nothing got done.

Apparently this was because of the Rangers’ current financial problems (the rumors I recall had the Rangers agreeing to pay $2.5 to $3.0 million of the $12 million owed by the BoSox to Lowell in 2010 and the Sox receiving one or two B-grade prospects) and also because of on-going concerns about whether or not Lowell’s right thumb had really healed after he had surgery on it this offseason.

After tonight’s game, Lowell is only hitting .215 with a .666 OPS.  However, he hasn’t been playing much, with Adrian Beltre, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz all healthy and performing well.

Even with Lowell’s poor production so far, it would be an improvement over what the Twins have been getting out of third base so far this season—a. 211 batting average and a .562 OPS.

My guess is that the Twins will be the winner of this bidding war, unless another team steps in.  The Red Sox strongest interest in unloading Lowell is finding someone to take off their hands as much of the $7.4 million remaining on his 2010 contract as possible.  With the Rangers still in financial limbo, and the Twins suddenly flush from their new ballpark, the Twins are obviously the team that can take on more salary in a deal.

The Twins have long been known as penny-pitchers, but with their new stadium, they have jumped to the sixth highest per game attendance average in MLB.  They’re in first place, but this is definitely a season where it is in their interest to spend what it takes to win. 

Whatever they spend in money to take on veterans to fill holes this season, they are likely to make back in season ticket sales for 2011 if they do, in fact, make the playoffs this year.

My guess would be that if the Twins are willing to take on somewhere between $2.5 million to $3.5 million of Lowell’s remaining 2010 salary, they’d get Lowell in exchange for a very low quality player to be named later.

The Rangers will likely have to give a prospect of some potential value to get Lowell since they won’t be able to take on salary the way the Twins can at the moment.  However, if the Twins are willing to take on $3 million of Lowell’s remaining salary, I doubt the Rangers would give up a prospect of that value for a four month rental of Mike Lowell.

For what it’s worth, whoever ends up being the highest bidder for the Rangers will probably make a killing if they can hold on to the team for ten years.  With the economy where it is right now, the value of major league teams has to be way down, because there just aren’t a lot of people around with $500 million to spend on a franchise, particularly when there are an awful lot of other bargains around for the purchasing.

Meanwhile, the Rangers play in a large market in a nice ballpark in a baseball-mad state with great baseball weather.  With good management and some success on the field, the franchise should be worth a whole more in 10 years than whatever the present market will bear.

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