The Boston Red Sox are considering acquiring a marquee first baseman.
The club is reportedly interested in San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.
If either one is acquired in a trade, the Red Sox would move incumbent first baseman Kevin Youkilis to third base on a permanent basis.
It certainly does to Mike Lowell.
“I figure I am no stranger to trade rumors,” Lowell said. “I understand the team’s desire to always look to upgrade.”
The Red Sox third baseman was in a similar situation a year ago when the club was looking to acquire All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira.
The difference between now and then is that Lowell, for the most part, is healthy.
A year ago, Lowell was recovering from hip surgery, and it was likely that he would spend spring training rehabbing with Boston, simply to showcase himself for potential suitors.
Lowell is now a full year removed from surgery and figures to head into spring training healthier than he has been in two seasons.
He was used sparingly down the stretch last year to rest his hip and because the additions of Victor Martinez and Casey Kotchman created a logjam for playing time.
If the Sox are able to acquire Cabrera or Gonzalez, Lowell would have considerable value on the trade market.
He is still an above average defender at third base, despite hip-related limitations on his range, and he can still hit.
Despite struggling through lingering pain, Lowell posted a solid .290/.337/.474 line with 17 home runs and 73 RBI in 419 at-bats last season.
If inserted into a lineup that can get runners on in front of him consistently, Lowell could be a major offensive force.
He did much of his damage in 2009 with runners in scoring position, posting an outstanding .313/.359/.516 line with seven home runs and 57 RBI coming in those situations.
Lowell will be 36 next season and has one year at $12 million remaining on his contract.
That number may be too steep for many teams to take on, but the Red Sox could easily absorb some of the monetary hit to facilitate a deal.
There are a number of teams with a vacancy at third, and Lowell could be just the man to fill that hole.
Personally, Lowell has made it clear that his preference is to remain in Boston, but he also understands the nature of the business and would not combat a potential trade.
“I treat this offseason like any other and maintain how much I like Boston, but this is a business and there are certain things I cannot control,” Lowell said. “I am focused on enjoying my family, working hard, and getting ready for a successful 2010 season.”