As we examined earlier this month, the Oakland Athletics face an interesting question regarding Jed Lowrie‘s team option for next season.
Trevor Plouffe, Stephen Vogt, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Sonny Gray, Yonder Alonso and now Rajai Davis have all departed the confines of the Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics have moved forward with a plan to rebuild their franchise and embrace their younger players.
So why has there been talk about picking up Jed Lowrie’s team option for 2018? Not only does keeping Lowrie work against Billy Beane‘s efforts to rebuild the team, but it blocks a certain prospect named Franklin Barreto.
Despite playing on a struggling team this year, Lowrie has found a way to deliver consistency both on offense and defense. An argument can be made that Lowrie has been Oakland’s best overall hitter this year.
Not only has Lowrie remained healthy this year, but he has excelled at the plate when others have struggled. He is slashing .270/.343/.441 with 12 HR and 45 RBI through 121 games this year.
Lowrie leads the team in average, on-base percentage and ranks second in runs scored with 66. He has actually posted an OWAR of 2.8 which ranks higher than Khris Davis‘ 2.6 this year.
It is rather confusing that Lowrie remains with the A’s at this point in the year. Especially when you consider the amount of talent that has left Oakland this year via trade. Yonder Alonso’s late exit from the team was rather unexpected as well, as many figured he would have been dealt before July 31.
Lowrie is interesting in the fact that the A’s appear likely to pick up his option for next year. The option is a team-option worth $6 million. The $6 million is team-friendly and would not break the bank by any means next year.
WHAT YOUTH MOVEMENT?
The team option is both inexpensive and enticing for the A’s. The only issue that keeping Lowrie around for another year is the fact that it causes a delay for top prospect Franklin Barreto.
Barreto got a small taste of major league pitching this year and experienced his share of struggles. By keeping Lowrie, the A’s would essentially be giving Barreto additional time and exposure in Nashville.
Barreto had a few special moments during his 11 game stint with Oakland, but he could benefit from additional time in Triple-A. Keeping Lowrie may not be a terrible idea. Beane has made bigger blunders before (Billy Butler, anyone?).
The A’s really have nothing to lose.
If they wanted to, they could pick up Lowrie’s option and decide to flip him during the winter for additional prospects. If he finishes the year on a strong note, Lowrie could be a valuable asset during the winter for Oakland and add to the team’s goal of replenishing their farm system.
Beane has stated on more than one occasion this year that the A’s are fully committed to their rebuild. Still, keeping Lowrie would help bridge the gap between present and future and allow Barreto to fully develop his skills before taking over the reigns.