A’s Acquire Lowrie at a Steep Cost

The Oakland A’s filled one of the team’s bigger holes on Monday evening, acquiring shortstop Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros in exchange for first baseman/designated hitter Chris Carter and a pair of prospects. Also heading to Houston is replacement level reliever Fernando Rodriguez.

From the A’s perspective, the organization adds a solid defensive shortstop in Lowrie, who has some offensive upside. In an injury-marred 2012 season, the former Red Sox top prospect hit .244/.331/.448 with 18 doubles, 16 homeruns, and a pair of stolen bases. His total offensive production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, was 11% better than the league average, the fifth highest mark among shortstops with 300+ plate appearances. Along with the ceiling of a 4.0-win player, Lowrie’s also battled injuries throughout his career, failing to top 100 games in a season since 2008.

Rodriguez, a lively armed reliever, has posted back to back seasons of negative fWAR totals. And while he’s typically shown an above-average ability to miss at bats, his control has often waffled between below-average and downright awful. He turns 29 in June, so it’s unlikely he somehow discovers the strike zone.

Going back to Houston, is Carter, right-hander Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi.

Coming off of his first extended period at the big league level, Carter hit .239/.350/514 with 12 doubles and 16 homeruns in 67 games. His total offensive production was 37% better than the league average. Like his minor league showings, he showed a strong eye at the plate, walking in 15% of the time, above-average to plus in-game power, and huge strikeout totals, the latter will eventually cap his ceiling as a 3.0-win player.

Peacock, who was one of the centerpieces acquired in the Gio Gonzalez deal with Washington, made 28 appearances (25 starts) for Sacramento last season, but posted an unsightly 6.01 ERA. His peripherals, however, were far more impressive. In 134.2 innings, the right-hander struck out 139 (9.3 K/9) but walked 66 (4.4 BB/9). Typically, his control has been far better; he’s averaged 3.3 BB/9 in his career. So, there’s plenty of optimism for a complete rebound.

Stassi, fourth round pick in the 2009 draft, rebounded nicely after an injury-marred disappointing 2011, The young catcher hit .246/.328/.465 with 18 doubles and 15 homeruns in 314 plate appearances. His total offensive production was just a tick about the league average. He did show a solid-average eye at the plate to go along with above-average power. He has the ceiling of a solid big league regular (about 2.0 wins above replacement).

In the end, Oakland filled one hole — shortstop — by opening another, either first base or designated. And the team ultimately added one, maybe 1.5 wins. But the cost was fairly steep, sending one big league regular and potentially two for Houston’s contending years.

As for Houston, the team ultimately swapped Mark Melancon, a serviceable backend arm who was sent to Boston for Lowrie, for three promising players, all of whom add to an improving collection of prospects.


Photo Courtesy of Jed Lowrie Courtesy of Lynne Sladky/AP


After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.