The Oakland Athletics acquired infielder Jed Lowrie on Feb. 4 in a trade with the Houston Astros. The move could end up being quite significant, especially since Lowrie is now the projected Opening Day shortstop.
Lowrie has the most experience playing shortstop in his five-year career, which will serve him well with the Athletics. In 240 career games, he has posted a .977 fielding percentage with 20 errors and 603 assists.
Hiroyuki Nakajima was signed to a two-year, $6.5 million contract this past offseason to play shortstop. However, Nakajima strained his hamstring a few days ago against the Cleveland Indians. He is now expected to begin the 2013 Major League Baseball season on the disabled list.
Lowrie has decent power for his size and is a tremendous defensive asset for Oakland. He is a playmaker at the plate, and is capable of suiting up at all four positions along the diamond.
“He always had good power for a guy in the middle of the infield,” general manager Billy Beane said earlier this year, according to Athletics.com. “It’s just hard to find that kind of power from a guy who can play the middle of the infield and doing it as a switch-hitter.”
Manager Bob Melvin did not want to say one way or the other if Lowrie would be the starting shortstop, but at this point, it appears there is no one more qualified for the job. With the 28-year old’s talent on offense and defense, it would certainly be a waste for him to sit on the bench when Oakland clearly needs someone with experience to step up.
Lowrie batted .244 with a career-high 16 home runs and 42 RBIs in 340 at-bats with the Astros last season. He continued that success in Spring Training with the Athletics as he posted a .294 batting average with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 51 at-bats.