Mike Lowell can now hear offers from any of the other 29 teams.
That the midnight deadline of Red Sox exclusivity passed last night should not be read as a sign that Lowell is leaving. The chances that Lowell would not even see what the open market could offer him for the next four years -- the last big contract he will sign as a major league player -- were very, very low.
In his mind, he may like what the "very strong" three-year deal the Red Sox offered him, but I can't blame him for being curious about what is out there.
The Herald says the Sox originally did not want to guarantee a third year, but they agreed to do so -- at $12 million a year. The Journal says the contract was approximately 3/40. So the deal was at least 3/36.
It sure sounds like the Sox are dead set against a fourth year, which I agree with. There are players you overpay for -- but Mike Lowell, who will be 34 years old on Opening Day 2008, is not one of them.
If another team (MFY?) offers Lowell a four-year deal than ends up being a good $20 million more than Boston's -- 14 per for 4/56? -- I won't blame him one bit for taking it.
Lowell has made comments about how wonderful it is to pay in Boston -- after toiling for several years in 1/3-filled parks with the Marlins. Whether he believes that is worth leaving several million dollars on the table remains to be seen.