Daniels: 'Not a lock to happen'
The Texas Rangers are expected to conduct a physical with third baseman Mike Lowell this week, a major league source told ESPNDallas.com, as the Boston Red Sox and Rangers continue to evaluate a proposed trade that would send Lowell to Texas and catcher Max Ramirez to Boston.
"As for the trade, nothing is final," Rangers GM Jon Daniels said in a chat on ESPNDallas.com on Monday. "As we've said it's something both teams are looking at and the parameters are generally understood. Still some things to work through though, and it's not a lock to happen. I expect resolution one way or the other fairly soon."
One thing that reportedly concerns the Rangers and will surely be examined is Lowell's right thumb, which was injured toward the end of last season. The Boston Globe reported late last week that the Rangers had signed off on Lowell's surgically repaired right hip but were worried about the thumb. Neither team would confirm that report to ESPNBoston.com over the weekend. Ramirez also has an injury history: tendinitis in both wrists.
The 35-year-old Lowell jammed his right thumb while taking batting practice the last weekend of the season. The injury, which Lowell called a sprain, did not prevent him from starting all three games of the division series against the Angels last October. In 2008, Lowell went on the DL after straining ligaments in his left thumb while landing awkwardly on his glove hand; he'd missed several games the previous year with an injury to the same thumb.
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Lowell had surgery in October 2008 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip and remove a bone spur on a thigh bone. He will be entering the final season of a $37.5 million, three-year contract. Lowell was an All-Star four times from 2002-07, hitting .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs in 2007. But he slumped to 73 RBIs in 2008 and 75 RBIs this year, hitting 17 homers each season.
The deal will not be consummated until the players involved each pass a physical, so it could break down at the last moment.
The potential trade also has yet to come to the attention of baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who must sign off on it because it involves $9 million going from the Red Sox to the Rangers, and the commissioner must OK any transfer of $1 million or more.
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Selig, while expressing some reservations about the deal because of the Rangers' tenuous financial state, is expected to give his approval, although there is another potential snag: MLB was expected to choose between competing ownership bids for the Rangers by Tuesday, and one might think that the new owners would like to have a voice in the matter. One potential ownership group has privately objected to the deal, according to one baseball source, though it's not clear whether he'd scotch it entirely.
And realistically, the decision on a new Texas owner, among groups spearheaded by former agent (and former Red Sox minor leaguer) Dennis Gilbert, and another that includes Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, may not come as soon as Tuesday. That could further delay the commissioner's ruling on the Lowell deal.
Lowell's agent, Seth Levinson, e-mailed ESPNBoston.com last week and said he had no interest in commenting on a possible trade.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett contributed to this report.