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Why Mike Lowell is affected by return of Rule 5 pick

03.21.10 at 9:39 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Sunday morning, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters that Florida was returning Rule 5 draft pick Jorge Jimenez to the Red Sox. The Marlins decided that they wouldn’t be able to carry Jimenez on the major league roster all season, and so they returned the infielder to Boston, which had to repay $25,000 of the $50,000 it received when the Astros picked him in the Rule 5 process (before trading him to the Marlins as part of a deal for reliever Matt Lindstrom).

The move is one that could have other repercussions for the Red Sox and Marlins, assuming that this line of thinking in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel accurately depicts Florida’s situation:

“Jimenez was hoping to either beat out Jorge Cantu at third or get on the roster as a left-handed pinch hitter.

“The move also signals that the Marlins are content with either Gaby Sanchez or Logan Morrison at first base.

“If Sanchez and Morrison both struggled, then Cantu would have been moved to first, opening a spot for Jimenez.”

The Marlins, according to reports, have been monitoring Mike Lowell as a trade candidate this spring, in part because of corner infield uncertainty. But if the team is now confident with Cantu as its everyday first baseman and either Sanchez or Morrison at first, then it presumably would diminish the team’s interest in a move for Lowell, the franchise leader in home runs.

That is not to rule out the possibility of a deal. Even if the Marlins are committed to Cantu and Sanchez/Morrion, perhaps the Fish would remain interested in Lowell as a role player (if Boston picked up most of his salary). But the need for a corner infielder is apparently less glaring than might have been the case.

As for Jimenez, the 25-year-old comes back to a Red Sox organization for whom he has performed beyond expectations when he was taken in the 16th round of the 2006 draft. In 2009, he hit .289/.366/.422/.787 with 13 homers and 87 RBIs in Double A Portland. Though not a slugger, he has always shown a good offensive approach at the plate.

The Sox gave some thought to adding him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but felt that his career had not yet advanced far enough that the team was at risk of losing him in the process. With his return to Boston, it appears that calculation was correct.

Read More: jorge jimenez, Matt Lindstrom, mike lowell,
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