The five hundred similarly themed posts before this one: The Giants should explore the idea of trading Noah Lowry.
This post: The Giants have to trade Noah Lowry.
It kills me too, but this mild elbow strain was a wake-up call. If Lowry were to get hurt, the cost certainty that makes him so valuable would vanish. The dream of three quality young arms + a non-wretched Zito is a powerful dream. The injury scare to Lowry shows just how fragile that dream is, and how quickly it could be ripped from us. One day: "Lowry Flies Back to San Francisco for Examination." The next: "Medical Conundrum: Lowry's Tendon Melts." It's a seller's market, the Giants have the depth to absorb the loss, and they're going to have at least three gaping lineup holes -- more likely four or five.
Lowry could be of interest to the Devil Rays, and with some wiggling the Giants could come away with a whole new left side of the infield. The Devil Rays have Brendan Harris, Ben Zobrist, and Reid Brignac at shortstop, and they have Evan Longoria and Akinori Iwamura at third. Though I doubt Longoria would ever be on the table for anyone but Cain or Lincecum, it isn't insane to think that the Giants could put together a package for Iwamura and Brignac using Lowry. Lowry isn't really the right guy for them -- they could use a strikeout pitcher considering the home-field turf and iffy defense -- but there just aren't going to be a whole bunch of options for anyone.
And that's the biggest point: If there were ever an offseason to trade a young pitcher with a manageable contract, this is it. Carlos Siva: multi-millionaire. Livan Hernandez: multi-millionaire. Jason Jennings: multi-millionaire. You have 30 teams looking at the available pitchers on the free agent market.
The Reds could build a package around Edwin Encarnacion, or maybe even Joey Votto.
The Indians might be willing to part with my white whale, Asdrubal Cabrera, to start a deal.
The Angels might give up one or two of their young chips -- Casey Kotchman, Brandon Wood, Maicer Izturis, or Erick Aybar.
Maybe there's one of those weird teams that decides they absolutely need a magical under-4.00 veteran and will outbid other teams to get him, even though they have plenty of in-house options.
Lowry's 20th in the league in ERA, and he has 14 wins. More and more general managers are aware that there are better ways to evaluate pitchers, and Lowry's declining K/BB could scare off some teams. That doesn't make it impossible to get fair value, though. Think about how many teams would have lined up to sign Barry Zito at five years, $60M last offseason. Think about how many teams would line up to sign him for four years, $50M after this season. Lowry and his current contract are a bargain if he's just an average pitcher. A team that acquires a clean-bill-of-health Lowry will overpay, and....
Hey. That's not fair. I specifically said this is a totally different idea. If Lowry's arm is something that will be taken care of with a little rest, the Giants have no choice but to trade him. That's a totally new riff on an old tune. Kind of. Not really. Stay with me.
But this is all based on positive medical reports, MRIs, and post-trade physicals. If "strain" becomes "tear", Lowry goes nowhere. If the "strain" stays "strained", and Lowry's health leads to a pile of unimpressive packages, Lowry should go nowhere. Welcome back, Noah. Get better, Noah. We're all pulling for you down at the station, Noah.
If he's healthy in March and still a Giant, the organization will have made a mistake.