Braves' interest in Jones, Lowe is slight
Outfielder's game in question, while righty's price is too high
ATLANTA -- To say the Braves have absolutely zero interest in Derek Lowe and Andruw Jones wouldn't exactly be accurate. But their interest in these two players currently appears to be only moderate.For this interest to increase, Lowe's cost is going to have to drop and Jones is going to have to gain his expected release from the Dodgers. But even if Jones is released, there shouldn't be any assumptions that he'll be able to celebrate a homecoming. The Braves have numerous concerns about their former center fielder and likely wouldn't be willing to provide him anything more than a minimum salary. In their prolonged search to land a frontline starting pitcher, the Braves are at least now keeping tabs on Lowe, who is also reportedly generating interest from the Mets, Angels, Phillies and Red Sox. But like some of these other teams, the Braves aren't interested in providing Lowe the $16 million annual salary that he's believed to be seeking. In fact, it doesn't seem like the Braves would be willing to better the rejected three-year, $36 million offer the Mets recently made to Lowe, who stands as the most attractive starting pitcher remaining on the free-agent market. While showing no indication that they are excited about seeing if the potential new ownership of the Padres would still be willing to deal Jake Peavy, the Braves realize that Lowe might be their only option in their search to find an ace. But even though Lowe has averaged 15 wins and 208 innings over the course of the past seven seasons, the Braves don't appear to be comfortable with providing him the same $16 million annual salary that they offered A.J. Burnett in early December. While waiting to see if Lowe's cost drops into their comfort zone, the Braves are still talking to multiple teams about trades that could add depth to their starting rotation. At the same time, Braves general manager Frank Wren is talking to his peers about potential trades to land an outfielder. But this certainly doesn't mean he'll be calling Dodgers GM Ned Colletti to discuss the suddenly cheaper Jones. While agreeing to either trade or release him before the start of Spring Training, the Dodgers will defer approximately $12 million of Jones' salary over the next six seasons. Consequently, the former Gold Glove outfielder is guaranteed just $5 million this season.
In an effort to pawn this cost on another team, Colletti will attempt to trade Jones. But most industry sources have wholeheartedly agreed that this effort will prove to be a futile effort, leading the Dodgers to eat this money and release the 31-year-old outfielder, who has batted .205 with a .367 slugging percentage over the past two seasons.Jones has expressed interest in returning to Atlanta, where he spent the first 12 seasons of his career. But it doesn't appear that the Braves will be willing to offer more than the Major League minimum salary of $400,000. Because he'd also be drawing approximately $4.6 million from the Dodgers, Jones might be willing to accept this kind of opportunity to attempt to revive his career in a familiar environment. But it's suffice to say that this option isn't high on the Braves' priority list. Based simply on his defensive skills, there was certainly a time when $400,000 would have been considered an unrealistic bargain for Jones, who won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards while playing in Atlanta. But Jones has gained weight and multiple scouts have talked about the decrease in range that he's shown over the course of the past three seasons. Other scouts have added to concerns by saying that the veteran didn't look good while playing in the Dominican Winter League last month.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.