CC Sabathia, Derek Lowe: Off Season Moves

CC Sabathia (signed a 5 year deal with the Yankees) – Going into the offseason, CC’s destination was an unknown. By resigning with the Yankees, CC’s fantasy value is probably maximized.

First, he will be a Yankee for 5 more seasons, unless traded or released. The Yankees will always try to be competitive and will have a top notch offense and bullpen surrounding him. Compared to other similar pitchers, he will get plenty of run support and leads held to help him accumulate wins.

Second, it will allow owners in keeper leagues to know his final destination now instead of in a month or two. They can decide if they want to keep him since they have a better understanding of his value.

I would generally have some injury related reservations about a 290 lb 31-year-old, but not yet with CC. He has not shown any signs of slowing down and could continue pitching 230+ innings well into the future.

Derek Lowe (Traded from Braves to Indians)

Indians perspective: After trading for a href=””>Ubaldo Jimenez during the season, the Indians opened the offseason with a trade for another NL starter — ground baller Derek Lowe. Atlanta had an excess of starting pitching and Indians were willing to take him, and some of his salary, off Atlanta’s hands.

Derek seemed like a viable fantasy option going into 2011. During the 2010 season had 16 wins and a 4.00 ERA. In 2011 he managed only 9 wins and an ERA over 5.

In 2011, he may have been a bit unlucky leading to an inflated ERA. His FIP (3.70), xFIP (3.65) and SIERA (3.75), were all a point lower than his ERA. The main cause for the difference was a 0.327 BABIP and a 66% LOB%. I expect some improvement/regression with his ERA.

While the Braves’ offense was not the greatest in 2010 (10 of 16 in the NL), the Indians’ offense was just as bad (10 of 14 in the AL). Lowe will likely not get any more offensive help for more wins with the Indians. Besides going from a below average offense to a below average offense, he is going to a team with a below average defense. In 2011, the Braves had the 2nd lowest UZR in the NL at -30. The Indians were worse with a UZR of -47 (2nd to worst in the AL) and look to bring back most of their regulars. More balls will fall for hits and Derek’s ERA and WHIP values will be inflated.

While the talent in the leagues may be a little more even than in the past, he will have to face a DH regularly instead of the pitcher. Again, a hit to his ERA, WHIP and K’s.

I could see Derek’s struggles of 2011 continue into 2012 with the Indians. He is not going to get a bunch of run support, so the number of wins will be effected. Also, a shoddy defense will be in place to inflate his BABIP. Fantasy wise, 2012 doesn’t look favorably for Mr. Lowe.

Atlanta’s perspective: With Lowe getting traded, the Braves only opened up a spot for one of their prospect to try to fill. The Braves have plethora of pitching with Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Tim Hudson, and Brandon Beachy all basically having a starting job locked up. The following pitchers will have to contend over the 5th spot: Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Kris Medlen.

The issue right now is finding which pitcher will fill that 5th spot. Also, it will only be the 5th starter, who will miss a few starts over the season.

I have a feeling that Atlanta is not done trading its pitching off. They have plenty of pitching depth and a low-powered offense. I would expect them to trade at least one more pitcher for some offensive help. Trading Lowe off helps clear the way a bit for some of the prospects, but there is still many questions surrounding the Atlanta pitching staff.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Nick V.
11 years ago

I don’t see how CC being in the AL (and the AL East no less) maximizes his fantasy usefulness. In fact, I think that there are only 3-4 other teams that would be worse (Tampa, Toronto, Baltimore, Colorado maybe – and none of those teams would have realistically signed him) for him, fantasy-wise.

Perhaps he will have more wins than he would otherwise would, but that’s a difficult thing to predict, and even if it is, we’re probably only talking 1-3 more wins than he would on another team that would sign him. If you own CC in a keeper league and have no allegiances one way or another, this extension was bad news.

cliff lee's changeup
11 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Zimmerman

The Rays were at 103 in wRC+ and I think the Blue Jays have a guy who can roughly mash the ball.

That said, nothing stopped him last year and I think the guy will be fine.