On a day when Atlanta legend John Smoltz was being introduced in Boston, the Braves hope they regained their footing by coming to terms with free agent starting pitcher Derek Lowe.
The deal, which is not expected to be finalized until after Lowe undergoes a physical examination on Wednesday, will run four years and pay Lowe $60 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract.
Lowe's marks the third new starting pitcher arrival of the winter for the Braves -- and the second this week -- and will help soothe an unusually rancorous winter for an organization that rarely has dealed in controversy.
Atlanta's made-over rotation now includes Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez (acquired from the Chicago White Sox this winter) and Kenshin Kawakami (a Japanese free agent who will be introduced in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon). The fifth starter likely will come from a group including Jo-Jo Reyes, Charlie Morton and Jorge Campillo.
Heading into the winter, the Braves were determined to add at least two starting pitchers, and they explored several avenues. They worked to acquire Jake Peavy from San Diego for more than six weeks before that ultimately failed. They romanced free agent A.J. Burnett hard before the right-hander took the New York Yankees' money. They failed to re-sign Mike Hampton, watching him depart for Houston.
Meantime, the Braves also took a failed run at free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who wound up re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That, though, came only after a bitter public dispute in which the Braves said they reached a verbal agreement with Furcal, after which Atlanta president John Schuerholz blasted the agent, Paul Kinzer, promising never to do business with his agency and calling it "a disgrace."
Atlanta still would like to add another bat to its lineup, probably an outfielder. But in agreeing to terms with Lowe, 35, the Braves now have solidified their rotation with a right-hander who has worked 200 or more innings in five of the past seven seasons. Lowe has thrown 180 or more innings in all seven of those seasons.
With the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, Lowe went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings. Over his past 10 starts, he was 6-1 with a 1.27 ERA. He helped pitch the Dodgers into the postseason in two of the past three years after helping the Boston Red Sox win a World Series in 2004.