A multi-part Around the Horn series, which features a position-by-position look at Oakland's projected starters and backup options heading into the season, turns its focus to second base after the first installment covering first base.Who's on second?Lowrie, not Lawrie, after the A's reacquired Jed Lowrie a second time from the
A multi-part Around the Horn series, which features a position-by-position look at Oakland's projected starters and backup options heading into the season, turns its focus to second base after the first installment covering first base.
Who's on second?
Lowrie, not Lawrie, after the A's reacquired Jed Lowrie a second time from the Astros in November, then traded Brett Lawrie to the White Sox for two Minor League pitchers during the Winter Meetings just two weeks later. Lowrie, of course, can play anywhere in the infield, but he's penciled in at second base for now, allowing Marcus Semien to remain at shortstop, where Lowrie presided during his first stint with Oakland in 2013-14.
Lowrie, 32 in April, signed a three-year, $23 million contract with the Astros last offseason and is owed $15 million by the A's over the next two seasons, including $7.5 million in 2016 and $6.5 million in 2017. His contract features a $6 million team option for the 2018 season that includes a $1 million buyout.
Lowrie brings a switch-hitting presence to the middle of the infield along with the potential to give the A's consistent at-bats. He hit .222 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 69 games for Houston last season, including .300 through April 27 before he suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery and forced him to miss more than three months.
Lowrie has a .257 career average, including .271 in 290 games with the A's, and fits in any number of spots in the batting order, including the No. 2 hole.
As an everyday shortstop with the A's during his first go-around in Oakland, Lowrie's defense -- notably his range and arm -- was often criticized, though his overall defensive numbers, minus Defensive Runs Saved, proved average. A move to second base, where he's appeared 58 times during his eight-year career, should bode well for Lowrie, who is valued more for his versatility and switch-hitting bat than his glove.
The A's have a strong backup middle-infield option in Eric Sogard, who will likely once again find a spot on the club's Opening Day roster thanks to his reliable glove. But keep an eye on second baseman Joey Wendle in Spring Training. Wendle, acquired from Cleveland in the 2014 Brandon Moss trade and ranked as Oakland's 16th-best prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, led the Pacific Coast League in hits last season (167) and batted .289 for Triple-A Nashville. Though Wendle's defense is still considered a work in progress, the A's remain high on the 25-year-old and expect to see him in the Majors by year's end.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.