Sep 16, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie (8) fields a ground ball against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
In Sunday’s Drumbeat, Susan Slusser reported that it is unlikely that the Oakland Athletics will extend a qualifying offer to free agent shortstop Jed Lowrie. A qualifying offer for first-time free agents this offseason sits at $15.3 million. If, by chance, the A’s make the offer, and Lowrie accepts, he stays in Oakland for another season. If the team makes an offer, and Lowrie rejects, he is granted free agency, but the A’s receive a draft pick from the team that signs him.
On the free agent market, Slusser speculates that Lowrie would probably command somewhere in the neighborhood of four years, and $30-40 million. This is likely not a avenue the A’s are likely to go down, with Daniel Robertson being about a year away from the big leagues.
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So where do the A’s turn? Well, there is always the trade market. The Angels are reportedly interested in shopping Howie Kendrick, whose skill set would fit perfectly with the A’s. As Slusser mentions in her piece, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a surplus of middle infielders, and are frequent trading partners of the A’s. While they currently have Cliff Pennington on their roster, Pennington would be a quick fix, and is a free agent in 2016. The Diamondbacks also have Didi Gregorius, a young shortstop/second baseman that plays decent defense, and who won’t hit free agency until 2019.
If no trades come to fruition, there is always the option that Billy Beane and company let it ride with the infielders they have at their disposal. Right now, that list consists of Eric Sogard, Nick Punto and Andy Parrino. While this sounds horrifying at first glance, there is a little bit of hope to be had. New hitting coach and former River Cats manager, Darren Bush, received praise from both Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss for helping them both with the hitting and mental aspects of the game.
It may be a long-shot, but Bush could be the key to unlocking one of the three middle infielders on the roster. Is this the ideal scenario? No. Could it work? Baseball is a funny game like that.