Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 10/31/11

The MLB offseason has just gotten underway, and the Indians were the first team to make a major move. It was announced Monday afternoon that the Indians had traded for Derek Lowe of the Atlanta Braves. In exchange, the Indians sent minor-league reliever Chris Jones to Atlanta.

This trade makes perfect sense for the Indians. The Braves are paying $10 million of the $15 million left on the 38 year old’s contract. This gives the Indians a solid five-man rotation for the first time in recent memory.

With Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin, and Fausto Carmona, the Indians have one of the best rotations on paper in the American League. The number five starter was expected to be a toss up between David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez, and Zach McCallister, but the addition of Lowe ends all questions about the rotation.

Lowe is coming off the worst season of his career as a starter, going 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA in Atlanta. Since becoming a starter in 2002 with Boston, he had at least 12 wins in every season before this past season.

The best part about Lowe is his durability. The Indians lost Fausto Carmona, Josh Tomlin, and Carlos Carrasco to injuries last year, with Carrasco’s requiring Tommy John surgery that is holding him out for the 2012 season. Lowe has started at least 32 games in every season since he became a starter in 2002. He has also pitched at least 182.2 innings over this span.

Lowe is joining a team that lost three pitching prospects in the 2011 season, with Alex White and Drew Pomeranz being traded to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez, and Carrasco being lost to injury. Lowe’s early acquisition helps the rotation be set before it is too late and the team runs out of options on the market.

Fausto Carmona’s future with the team was uncertain before the team exercised his option on Monday. The team has decided to pay the $7 million dollars owed to Carmona and keep him on the rotation.

The move makes sense as Fausto has proven that he can be a dominant pitcher; he just needs to piece everything together for an entire season. It might benefit him to be near the bottom of the rotation and not have the pressure of being the Opening Day starter as he was in 2011. He will most likely be the fifth starter, which shows how much the Indians rotation has improved since Opening Day of last year.

The other player whose future in Cleveland has been in question was Grady Sizemore. The team held a $9 million dollar option, but they decided not to exercise it, leaving Sizemore a free agent.

Grady has not been healthy since the 2008 season, and he has only played in 104 games over the past two seasons. He was the face of the team from 2005-2008, and had 33 home runs in 2008. The center fielder was a key piece of the 2007 AL Central champion Indians, but letting him go at this time is a smart move.

The Indians can pursue Sizemore in free agency and possibly get him back for much less than $9 million. Due to his recent injury problems, few teams might actually offer him enough money to compete with the Indians, assuming it is less than $9 million.

The Indians appear to be poised for a playoff run in 2012 and should be making a few more moves before the season begins.

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