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And I Just Took His Spy...

The Lowry-as-trade-bait topic has been discussed quite a bit. It might not be beating a dead horse to bring it up again, but it has to be close. Like, my miner is right in front of the bomb protecting the dead horse's flag. The idea keeps coming up in the comments, though, and the speculated bounty for Lowry has been somewhere between Manny Alexander and Miguel Cabrera. The situation as I see it:

  1. Lowry is a fan-favorite, and the Giants would probably prefer not to trade him. Homegrown pitchers make the world go 'round. But if Lowry could bring a good young power hitter back in a trade, the idea has to be at least explored.
  2. Lowry is locked up until 2009 for total of $8M, and he has a $6.25M option for 2010. If Lowry has a league-average ERA for the life of that contract, he's insanely valuable in the current market. Every August we can see that he at least has the potential to be more than an average innings-eater. An above-average pitcher with that contract is doubly insanely valuable with sprinkles on top.
  3. After last season, other teams might not be convinced he will continue to be average in the short- or long-term. As such, the "insanely valuable" part doesn't really apply when calculating trade value. The other teams will not want to pay a premium in talent to acquire a question mark.
If the Giants were to trade Lowry now, the maximum value they would get would probably be from a team assuming Lowry is an average pitcher at best. In the pitching-starved world of the present, an average pitcher who is underpaid might be enough to bring back a young power hitter. It might not. If a young player were to come back in the trade, it's likely they would have as many question marks as Lowry. The Giants' offense of the present and future will need more than question marks.

It makes sense to overvalue Lowry right now. The only thing the Giants have is pitching, and it would make sense to trade from a strength to improve a weakness, but it is worth it to find out if Lowry tops out as a comparison to Kirk Rueter or as a comparison to Mark Buehrle. That's the difference between a Jorge Cantu gamble and the start of a Carl Crawford package. And if Lowry does become an above-average pitcher, it might not be possible to get fair value back. The Giants would love to have that problem.

The risk is that Lowry devolves into a below-average pitcher or suffers an injury. That's a risk that's worth the reward for hanging on to him. No on Prop. 51...for now. Here are two links (a and b) to past Lowry trade threads if you just want to copy and paste your views, though his hot start might have changed your mind.