ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 09: Tampa BayRays shortstop Brandon Lowe (35) at bat during the regular season MLB game between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays on September 09, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Rays have identified 24-year-old second baseman/outfielder Brandon Lowe as a young player who they want to part of the team’s core for the foreseeable future. Late Tuesday night, it was reported that the Rays had signed Lowe to a six year, $24-million contract with team options that could see Lowe spend the next eight seasons in Tampa Bay. The deal could be worth up to $49 million over eight years if both options are exercised.
Tampa Bay Rays Sign Brandon Lowe To Six-Year Contract
A third-round draft pick by the Rays in 2015, Lowe enjoyed a breakout year in 2018. Starting the season with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits, Lowe slashed .291/.400/.508 with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 54 games. That was good for a 156 wRC+ and a promotion to the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
There, Lowe was even better, hitting .304/.380/.613 with 14 home runs and 35 RBI in 46 games. That graded out to an absurd 178 wRC+. That earned Lowe a promotion to the big leagues. On August 5, Lowe made his big league debut for the Rays.
After an 0-for-19 start, Lowe rebounded to post respectable numbers. Over his first 43 MLB games, hitting .233/.324/.450 with six home runs and 25 RBI, good for a 113 wRC+ and 0.8 fWAR. He’s had an impressive start to spring training so far this year. Lowe is hitting .359/.405/.692 with two home runs and a team-leading 14 RBI.
How Lowe Fits on the 2019 Rays Roster
Lowe also displayed defensive versatility, something that has long been valued by the Rays. In addition to the 24 games he started for them at his natural position of second base, he also started seven in left field and five in right field. Where exactly Lowe fits on a crowded roster remains to be seen.
The Rays already have Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson sharing time at second base, Willy Adames at shortstop, Matt Duffy at third base, and Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi sharing time at first base. Meanwhile, they have Kevin Kiermaier, Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows and Avisail Garcia in the outfield.
As long as Lowe is hitting, though, his versatility on defense should help the Rays find a spot for him in the lineup.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 09: Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Brandon Lowe (35) at bat during the regular season MLB game between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays on September 09, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)