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The latest Lowrie free-agent rumors

MLB.com

Jed Lowrie was a major part of the A's 2018 success, producing a career-high 23 homers, 99 RBIs and 4.9 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs. After that strong showing, the 34-year-old enters the free-agent market looking for a new deal.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Jed Lowrie was a major part of the A's 2018 success, producing a career-high 23 homers, 99 RBIs and 4.9 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs. After that strong showing, the 34-year-old enters the free-agent market looking for a new deal.

Below you will find a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the infielder.

Despite two seasons of success, could Lowrie still be a value buy?
Nov. 13: After posting 8.5 WAR (per FanGraphs) over the last two years, is it possible that Lowrie might still be undervalued by the contract that he'll ultimately sign this offseason?

Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated considers Lowrie to be a potential "value buy" in free agency, as she writes in an article in which she lists the switch-hitting second baseman among the available players that could provide the "biggest bang for their buck."

She points to Lowrie's relatively advanced age (34 years) and robust injury history (significant time missed in two of the last four seasons) as reasons why he might not get a contract that will truly reflect his on-field potential in the coming years. Baccellieri also cites Lowrie's increasing launch angle (following the A's recent trend), his resultant low ground-ball rate and his high hard-hit rate (37.6 percent per Statcast™, fourth among American League second basemen with 150 batted balls) as reasons to believe that Lowrie's recent success is an indication of a changed approach that will lead to continued future production.

Could poor defense of free-agent competitors help Lowrie's market?
Nov. 12: While the free-agent market for second basemen is deep this offseason, Jed Lowrie stands apart from many of his counterparts -- and not solely because of his bat.

Lowrie isn't an elite defender, but he isn't likely to hurt a team with his fielding, which gives him an edge over some of the alternative free-agent options.

Mark Simon took a look at six players whose free-agent markets could be hindered by their poor defense in an article for The Athletic, and the list included three second basemen: Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Murphy and Brian Dozier.

Cabrera has made the majority of his defensive appearances at shortstop during his career, but he's played there just 76 times over the past two seasons, and his lifetime Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) mark as a shortstop is -56. The veteran isn't likely to be courted as a shortstop by most teams, but his defense at second base isn't much better.

In 2018, Cabrera's -17 DRS at second base ranked second to last among those with at least 500 innings at the position. Murphy was last with -18 DRS, and Dozier was three spots behind Cabrera with -8. Lowrie recorded 1 DRS with a 6.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in '18, while Cabrera, Murphy and Dozier had negative UZR marks.

Meanwhile, neither DJ LeMahieu nor Ian Kinsler was anywhere close to Lowrie in terms of offensive production this past season, mitigating the defensive advantage they have over the 34-year-old Lowrie.

Could Twins, Rockies consider Lowrie for second-base void?
Nov. 10: This year's crop of free-agent second basemen is especially deep, including players such as Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Descalso, Brian Dozier, Josh Harrison and Neil Walker.

Lowrie was clearly the most productive of those players this past season, posting 4.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), per FanGraphs, but teams may be hesitant to move quickly on him, considering the depth of the market and Lowrie's age (34).

That said, all of those players being free agents means there are a bunch of second-base openings around the Majors, so Lowrie should have his share of suitors besides the A's, who have already expressed interest in re-signing him.

According to The Athletic's Jim Bowden (subscription required), the Rockies and the Twins could potentially be among those teams, with Colorado and Minnesota needing to replace LeMahieu and Dozier, respectively.

While both clubs have young options -- Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers for the Rockies, Nick Gordon for the Twins -- Lowrie would be a reasonably priced stopgap and a potential difference-maker for two clubs looking to contend in 2019.

Is Lucroy more likely to return to Oakland than Lowrie?
Nov. 9: Even though the A's have indicated that they're willing to increase their payroll for the 2019 season, don't expect Oakland to be a player for any of the top-tier free agents, writes MLB.com's Jane Lee. Instead, the A's are in wait-and-see mode following the conclusion of the General Managers Meetings and are hoping to bring back some of the players the team might lose to free agency.

Lee indicates that the Athletics' list is headlined by second baseman Lowrie and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Only one of the two is expected to return, and that's if the A's get lucky.

Lucroy is expected to be easier to retain, since he's more likely to agree to another short-term deal and will almost certainly command less money on the open market than Lowrie, who, despite entering his age-35 season, is coming off the best two-year stretch of his career. Though Lowrie and the A's have publicly indicated that both sides are interested in a reunion, the market for the switch-hitting second baseman could include nearly a dozen other clubs, according to Lee.

A long-term deal with Lowrie would not only be more expensive, but also could make less sense given that prospect Franklin Barreto is ready to step in at second. Barreto hit .259/.357/.514 with 18 homers in Triple-A last season, and has already talled 57 games across two seasons in MLB, with seven big league homers to his name.

Forst indicated that the catching situation is more urgent to him than second base at the moment, in part due to Barreto's presence. In any case, too large of a commitment to Lowrie or Lucroy could jeopardize Oakland's ability to address its biggest need, which is starting pitching.

Forst reiterates A's interest in bringing back Lowrie
Nov. 7: Although MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal suggested that Jed Lowrie's agency switch from CAA to Excel would likely slow down any push from the A's to re-sign the second baseman, Oakland general manager David Forst indicated Wednesday on MLB Network that the club is still interested in a reunion.

"We've said we'd like to bring Jed back and have been in touch with his new representative," Forst said. "We know we have to build on the momentum from 2018. There's a lot of guys that are a foundation of this team, hopefully well into a new stadium, but we're doing everything we can to kind of build on this and keep it going for 2019."

Lowrie, 34, was one of the many who were forced to replace Brodie Van Wagenen after the longtime agent left CAA to take the Mets' GM job.

The second baseman could be heavily courted in free agency after slashing .267/.353/.448 with a career-high 23 homers and 99 RBIs in 2018. He was also a finalist for the American League Gold Glove Award at second base, and his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) mark of 4.9, per FanGraphs, was one of the best among this year's free-agent class.

Video: Forst discusses the importance of Davis and Lowrie

Predicting Lowrie's contract
Nov. 6: Jed Lowrie is coming off an All-Star campaign in 2018 in which he registered career bests in homers (23), RBIs (99) and games played (157). Normally, that would put a player in line for a long-term deal, but that might not be the case for Lowrie. 

FanGraphs' ranking of the Top 50 free agents this offseason has Lowrie at No. 9 and predicts he's in line for a two-year pact worth upward of $25 million to $30 million in total.

Lowrie's age (35 in April) and injury history -- he's reached 400 plate appearances only four times in 11 seasons -- are the biggest factors against him likely getting no more than two years at this stage of his career. There's also the matter that the second-base market has a handful of other options, including DJ LeMahieu, Brian Dozier and Daniel Murphy.

That said, the versatile switch-hitter did have his best season at the right time, which can only help Lowrie's chance to max out his salary on a per-year basis.

Jed Lowrie