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Lowell may stay home as stadium deal nears


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Lowell may stay home as stadium deal nears


By Mike Berardino

Staff writer

Posted October 27 2004


ST. LOUIS ? The Marlins' chances of retaining Mike Lowell appeared much stronger Tuesday as the club continued to make progress toward finalizing a new stadium in downtown Miami.


According to industry sources, a deal could be announced as soon as today that would keep the three-time All-Star third baseman in South Florida for at least the 2005 season. It's possible the Marlins could simply agree to guarantee the final three seasons of the deal at a combined $25.5 million in order to keep Lowell from declaring free agency on Nov. 1.


"I think we're definitely moving in the right direction," Lowell told WQAM radio's Hank Goldberg on Tuesday. "I think something is really going to get worked out. ... I think [the Marlins] believe the stadium issue is something that can be attained."


Officials from the Marlins, the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County continued to work on the stadium plan, but sources close to the process said it was unlikely any deal would be announced until after the Nov. 2 general election.


"It's not about one player and the flexibility you have or don't have with that player," Marlins President David Samson said after an appearance at Holmes Elementary School in Miami. "It's about getting the [stadium] deal done."


At the same time, Samson was effusive in his praise of Lowell and said the club hoped to have an announcement soon regarding his status.


"Mike has been tremendous in terms of what he's added to the Marlins franchise," Samson said. "He's local. There's really no individual greater than the whole team. It's not about Mike. It's about getting the stadium."


The Marlins have made it clear they will no longer give no-trade protection to their players, so Lowell would be putting his faith in the club's word if he stays put. Lowell could still be traded in the coming months, but he would then have the right to demand his new team deal him again after one season, if not sooner.


Lowell signed a four-year, $32 million contract last December that would revert to a one-year contract with a player option for 2005 if no stadium deal was in place by Nov. 1. The Marlins have investigated trading Lowell before that date rather than lose him for nothing more than two compensatory draft picks next June.


However, the primary focus has always been to keep Lowell. One general manager who spoke recently with the Marlins said he "didn't get the sense [Lowell] was available. It seemed like the goal was to try and keep him."


While Lowell could likely earn more as a free agent this winter, an annual take of $8.5 million the next three years isn't bad by industry standards. Comparable players in terms of production and service time include Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon and Brewers outfielder Geoff Jenkins.


All three are working on three-year contracts that pay them between $19.5 million and $23 million.


A Marlins source recently said a $60 million payroll next year is "realistic," which would represent a 13 percent increase from last year's $53 million. That includes $10.5 million in deferred payments to Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Hampton.


If the Marlins keep Lowell, the hope among the players is they would then be more aggressive in re-signing free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano.


"Doing this and obviously taking on a little bit more salary," Lowell said, "it's somewhat tied to expect[ing] revenue is going to increase. I've got to believe that's tied to a stadium."


Friends say Lowell doesn't want to leave the Marlins and would only elect free agency as a "last resort," one associate said.


While the final machinations of the stadium process are still being worked out, one industry source that has been in contact with South Florida politicians said the deal could include language protecting the region from another fire sale.


The Marlins could be asked to sign an agreement promising not to relocate the team for a certain number of years as well as not to do anything that would devalue the franchise.


Depending on how broadly it is interpreted, a non-devaluation clause could require the team to avoid a drastic cut or even any cut in payroll.


"There's an overwhelming fear among the politicians that they're going to be hoodwinked," the source said. "The real return for the community is if there is going to be a competitive team."


Mike Berardino can be reached at mberardino@sun-sentinel.com. Staff Writers Juan C. Rodriguez and Sarah Talalay contributed to this story.

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whats getting to me is how half the south florida media is:




yet the other half is:


"New stadium keeping players adding peices wooo wooo wooo"


i just want the s*** to get done so either way all this prediction and financial junk can be put in the past

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