The Oakland A’s have “had internal conversations about bringing back” second baseman Jed Lowrie, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.
The A’s need a new second baseman after trading away incumbent Jurickson Profar last week. They do have internal options available on their 40-man roster, but it’s already been reported that they’re looking to add a left-handed hitting middle infielder and that they’re more likely to find one via trade than free agency. Technically they did trade for a lefty middle infielder on Thursday, in the form of Rule 5 draft pick Vimael Machin, but he’s barely played above Double-A and probably doesn’t fill this need on his own.
This latest rumor about Lowrie is presumably still a long way from the two teams actually negotiating or getting a deal done, but it’s still enough to put his name on the proverbial big board. After all, the A’s current front office has traded for Lowrie twice already in the past.
In his latest stint in green and gold, Lowrie played the best and healthiest ball of his career and earned his first All-Star berth in 2018. That netted him a two-year, $20 million contract from the Mets last winter, but unfortunately he missed almost the entire 2019 season due to a series of leg injuries (knee, hamstring, calf). He finally debuted for New York on Sept. 7, but all eight of his appearances were as a pinch-hitter (0-for-7, w/ one walk).
Still, it wasn’t long ago that Lowrie was starring for a playoff team in Oakland, and furthermore this seems to be the only place he can stay healthy. He’s never played 100 games in a season for any other club, but he’s done it four times for the A’s in five tries. Might he be able to pull it off again in his age-36 campaign?
At the very least, Lowrie is surely available. The Mets want to clear some salary, and Lowrie is an obvious candidate, between his lost season, his eight-figure price tag, and the fact that he primarily plays the same position as star teammate Robinson Cano. Last week, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic specifically named him as being on the block.
On the other hand, there are obstacles. Rosenthal states in his story that New York might like to move Lowrie by “packaging him with a low-cost, zero-to-three year player,” which implies they’d like to maximize the amount of money they clear from the books. Meanwhile, Slusser suggests the A’s would want the Mets to “pick up the bulk of Lowrie’s $10 million salary,” which seems like the antithesis of the Mets’ supposed goal of cutting costs.
On top of that, Lowrie’s recent health issues make him something of a question mark for 2020. The A’s are trying to contend, so can they afford such a gamble, or should they be looking for a more reliable option?
Either way, they’re not the only team looking at Lowrie. Rosenthal reported this week that the Rangers also asked about a package including him with 24-year-old 1B/OF Dominic Smith as the sweetner, though “talks to this point have failed to progress.”
Analysis: On one hand, this would be so much fun. Lowrie will always be an Oakland favorite, and it would be neat to have him back on another contending A’s team, for the third time. And if he returned to anything resembling his 2017-18 form, he’d be a huge upgrade for the lineup, on both sides of the ball.
But it would also scare the hell out of me. Lowrie has bounced back to health every time he’s come to Oakland, but one day he won’t. How will it go the third time around, now entering his late-30s and coming off his most injury-riddled season yet? I think my preference would be to find someone younger and healthier to acquire, even if that means trading a real prospect instead of just taking on some salary.
But I mean, if Lowrie turns out to be the guy they get, then you won’t hear me complaining. It would complete the trilogy and we could call it Return Of The Jedi.
Oh wait wait I’m calling this one: the A’s are going to trade for Jed Lowrie and cash. You know it’s true.— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) December 8, 2019