The Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics are two small market teams that have fought the good fight against the large market teams for quite some time with varying success; could the two teams agree on a trade that helps both sides continue the fight? According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie is receiving “significant interest” from other teams. Slusser also notes, however, that the A’s are reluctant to move the shortstop and that a deal is “highly unlikely”. The Pirates, according to Tom Loxas of ChicagoNow.com, are interested in acquiring a shortstop this offseason. Are the Bucs one of the teams that has interest in Lowrie?
The Pirates’ rumored interest in acquiring a shortstop is a bit surprising since their most pressing needs are at first base and right field. Depending on the A.J. Burnett situation, they may also need to add a starting pitcher at some point if he decides to retire. The Pirates’ situation at shortstop isn’t great, but it certainly isn’t a problem. With Clint Barmes entering free agency the Pirates are set to give 26 year old Jordy Mercer the starting job barring a trade for a better option. The cheapest way to go about their shortstop situation would be to bring back Barmes on a cheap deal to be the backup behind Mercer, but if they do decide to make a trade Lowrie would be a great option.
In 2013, Lowrie hit .290/.344/.446 with a 121 wRC+ in 662 plate appearances. His career 9.2 walk percentage is decent, as is his 16.7 strikeout percentage. He put up a 3.6 fWAR last season. Mercer, in 365 plate appearances, hit .285/.336/.435 with a 113 wRC+ in 2013. In a little over half of Lowrie’s plate appearances, Mercer had a 1.4 fWAR. Lowrie is above average defensively while Mercer is a bit below average. Mercer has a reputation for being an awful defensive shortstop, but that isn’t the case.
The Pirates don’t seem to be extremely high on Mercer for some reason, so seeing a move to upgrade at the position shouldn’t be a huge shock if it does happen. However, it certainly shouldn’t be high on the priority list for the Bucs. Lowrie would be an upgrade over Mercer most likely, but not a huge upgrade.