The Oakland A’s made several small additions to their club this offseason. However, the best offseason move seems to be acquiring shortstop Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros.
Lowrie will likely replace the struggling Jemile Weeks at second base, but could end up playing third. The move to sign Lowrie is significant because he’s a player that can play a couple of different positions that were weak points for the A’s in 2012. He has also been constantly improving since his down year in 2011.
So why Lowrie and not Hiroyuki Nakajima or Grant Balfour?
Well, we’ll start with Nakajima. The main reason is that he is pretty much an unknown. Nakajima did have an excellent 2012 season in Japan with a .312 batting average, 74 RBI and 13 home runs. However, there is no way of knowing whether or not Nakajima will replicate those numbers in the big leagues.
Basically, he’s a risk that general manager Billy Beane is taking, and it could work out huge or not at all. But, only time will tell.
Grant Balfour was the major move the Athletics made in their bullpen. The Athletics aren’t exactly the wealthiest team in baseball, but they did spend a little to keep the right-handed relief pitcher in an A’s uniform. He put up great stats in 2012—2.53 ERA, 24 saves and an 0.92 WHIP.
The reason Balfour isn’t the choice for best offseason move is because of his recently suffered injury. Balfour will be out for at least four weeks with a torn meniscus, which he underwent surgery for on Thursday. This could be nothing (hopefully it’s not), but if Balfour is plagued by injury this season, it will be a huge disappointment to Athletics fans. Of course, if he recovers quickly he could be one of the team’s biggest weapons out of the ‘pen.
The reason Lowrie is Oakland’s best offseason move thus far is because he’s a lock to be an upgrade for the A’s regardless of where he plays. He will put a strong presence in either of two positions that need improvement for the Athletics, and his batting has consistently been improving since his slump season in 2011.
It’s very likely he will return to 2010 form and have a batting average north of .280 again. While it’s possible either Balfour or Nakajima could have significant (and possibly greater) impacts , most A’s fans can probably agree that they’d rather see big things from all three.