ATLANTA -- When Derek Lowe walked off the mound in the fifth inning of Tuesday's loss to the Phillies, many Braves fans said they hoped they had seen the last of him of pitching for their favorite team.
With Lowe owed $15 million next year, there seems to be little chance the Braves will be able to trade him without at least eating a significant portion of his contract. But with this being the case, the club still does not plan for him to be in the starting rotation when the 2012 season begins.
"Going into next season, it's hard to project him as one of our starters at this point, based on the young talent we have," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "But again, that's something we'll figure out once we get closer to Spring Training."
As things currently stand, the Braves are projecting Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy to be back in their starting rotation. If they want to add a left-hander to complete the quintet, Mike Minor certainly seems to be Major League ready.
The Braves also have the option of putting highly regarded prospects Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran in the starting rotation next year. Though they might be young, there are many who consider them better options than the 38-year-old Lowe, who posted a 5.05 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .285 against him this year.
"You want to put the best five starters out there," Wren said. "Right now, the way we project, I'm not sure Derek would be one of our top five starters. I'll just leave it at that."
Wren chose not to comment when asked if Lowe might be moved to the bullpen.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.