Last season, the Oakland Athletics had everything in place, except consistent hitting options. Only Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson could be relied upon to produce throughout the season and Lowrie might not even return for 2014.
With the signing of Nick Punto and upcoming talent in Addison Russell, it is possible that Jed Lowrie will find his seemingly secure shortstop position in jeopardy.
That is not to say that he is expendable. Lowrie is one of the best hitting middle infielders in the MLB and would start on almost every Major League team. Because of his talented bat, the A’s insist that he is their starting shortstop.
The organization also realizes, however, that he is a valuable asset on the trade market. Shortstops who hit as well as Lowrie don’t come along every day and teams are finding themselves with weaknesses at the position.
The St. Louis Cardinals have demonstrated interest in practically all above-average shortstops in the MLB. If they make an enticing offer that includes Lowrie, should the A’s accept the trade?
While the Athletics do have a viable option at shortstop with the Nick Punto signing, they would miss Lowrie’s consistent bat in the lineup.
The Addison Russell situation also exists. There is no question that he has the potential to be a superb hitting shortstop and the A’s are seemingly considering moving him to the majors for 2014. Of course, there is absolutely no guarantee that Russell will produce in the big leagues.
If the A’s trade Lowrie and Russell struggles in his place, the A’s will be missing a key component of their lineup from last year’s playoff run. Punto is a decent hitter, but he doesn’t hit at the same clip that Lowrie does. Because the A’s do not have a plethora of great batters, the A”s need all the production they can get to return to the playoffs for a third straight year.
My advice to the A’s: Do not trade Jed Lowrie, yet.
If Addison Russell capitalizes on his Major League opportunity, the A’s will be free to give him the starting spot, opening up the trade possibility. If Russell falters, Lowrie will be there to provide a steady hand in the batting order, giving the offense the success that it had in 2013.
Keep him around for now.