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Elephant Rumblings: Allen no sure thing at shortstop

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

While the assumption all winter had been that Nick Allen would be given the starting shortstop job on an everyday basis this season, that apparently is not the thinking the team itself has on the position.

General manager David Forst spoke to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle and said that the team doesn’t “know that we have anything penciled in” in regards to the position. Not the best statement of confidence for the 24-year old former prospect.

Allen made his MLB debut this year and made it into 100 games. Oakland fully committed to him at the position in the middle of August when they released veteran Elvis Andrus, making Allen the everyday starter at shortstop the rest of the season. He didn’t really take advantage of that opportunity, though, hitting just .220 with a pair of home runs over those final two months of the season. On the plus side, his elite defense was as advertised.

If Allen isn’t the starter at shortstop this summer, Oakland just signed infielder Aledmys Diaz this offseason and could plug him in there. He’s played shortstop in the past but it’s not his best position, and a lot of his value to this club is going to be his positional flexibility. Going from Allen to Diaz would theoretically boost the offensive production from the position but at the cost of defense and take away a super-utility option away from manager Mark Kotsay’s tool box.

Another option could be to give infielder Kevin Smith one more chance in the big leagues. He struggled with the bat last year in both the majors and minors, but did end his season on a high note hitting .365 with a .405 on-base and hitting 11 homers for Vegas. And even with his struggles with the bat, he was hitting decently well against left-handers. So far this spring he’s hitting .353/.389/.529 with a home run and stolen base. It would be nice to get something from the Matt Chapman trade, and Smith could be the final chance at that.

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