A New Shortstop on Deck for Oakland Athletics?

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Sep 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie (8) throws to first base during the 2014 American League Wild Card playoff baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals won 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

As disappointing as the end of this season was for all things Oakland Athletics, the team’s fans have good reason to look forward to 2015 with optimism. If you think this will come by way of a rebuilding year, you may want to think again. The A’s are poised to be as good a team if not better come spring, and they won’t need to make too many major moves to get there.

However, even the passing glance at this team reveals some holes that began to get even bigger as the season wore on. The middle infield was a spot of much negative attention for the A’s. It seemed that hardly a game went by without an error and they ranked 28th in the league in team fielding percentage. With Jed Lowrie approaching free agency, let’s take a look at some viable shortstops around the league who will be available in 2015 and their potential for putting on the green and gold.

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Asdrubal Cabrera

We are getting a look at the lesser known Cabrera in this post-season with the Washington Nationals. Cabrera has put up consistent numbers in his eight years in the MLB, posting a .241 average with 14 HRs, 61 RBIs and an OPS of .694 in the 2014 regular season. Cabrera has the versatility to play at second or short and he has an above average fielding percentage. However, his current  $7 million average annual salary may be a little hefty for the Oakland A’s but not completely out of the question. When it comes down to it though, Asdrubal Cabrera would not really be an upgrade for the A’s.

J.J. Hardy

Hardy also has a consistent career with a most recent line of .261/9/52/.682 with the Baltimore Orioles, although he had much higher home run and RBI totals in the previous three seasons. He’s an above average fielder with Gold Glove awards in 2012 and 2013 to prove it. But with an average annual salary of almost $7.5 million it would surprise many if the Oakland Athletics would spring for that price tag.

Hanley Ramirez

The most experienced and expensive on this short list is Hanley Ramirez, who had a career year in 2013. His numbers were somewhat lower this year but still a very respectable .283/13/71/.817, Ramirez boasts the best offense of this group. So what’s  his D look like? His fielding percentage is slightly below average but his offensive prowess probably makes up for any defensive deficiency. He’s been an All-Star and MVP candidate multiple times in his career so it would be tough for the A’s to come up with the money this current LA Dodger will command.

So, after taking a closer look at these shortstops around the league, what conclusion can we come to? It is noteworthy that all of the shortstops on the list above are in the post season this year and if their teams go much further it will undoubtedly pull their marketability up even more.  So, all things considered, Jed Lowrie looks pretty darn good for the Oakland Athletics. Here’s the career offensive line he brings to the table: .261/14/72/.741. His fielding is average but he comes with more bang for the buck making just over $5 million last year. If Jed can stay healthy he can prove to be an important part of the Athletics line up for at least another year as the everyday shortstop.

Next we will take a look at getting the Athletics something many feel they regretfully traded away: a hot bat.

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