Jed Lowrie Rumors
Acquired from the Astros in exchange for Chris Carter, Max Stassi and Brad Peacock prior to the 2013 season, Lowrie is entering his second season with the A's. He's eligible for free agency following this year and had been projected to earn $4.8MM by Swartz.
11:52am: The A's have dodged arbitration with righty Luke Gregerson by agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth $5.065MM, per the New York Post's Joel Sherman (on Twitter). Gregerson is a client of O'Connell Sports Management.
Gregerson was acquired from the Padres this offseason in a one-for-one swap for Seth Smith. One of the game's premier setup men, he's likely next in line behind Jim Johnson for saves in Oakland. The right-hander was projected to earn $4.9MM, according to MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Gregerson is eligible for free agency following the 2014 season.
The Athletics have a "meaningful interest" in Nelson Cruz, a source tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, though no deal is imminent between the two sides. The A's were noted as one of the clubs interested in Cruz (along with the Mariners, Rangers, Mets and possibly the Phillies) earlier this week by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. As Slusser notes, Cruz's demands for a four-year/$75MM contract seem well out of Oakland's price range and the team already has a set outfield. Signing Cruz would also cost the A's a first round draft pick as compensation, so I'd have to say that a Cruz/Oakland connection seems like a long shot.
Here are some more items from around both the AL and NL West divisions...
- Also from Slusser, "nothing is imminent" between the A's and Bartolo Colon, though the team is still interested in the veteran right-hander. Jed Lowrie is drawing "significant interest" from other teams but the A's need him at shortstop and are "highly unlikely" to pursue trade talks.
- The Diamondbacks aren't interested in Cruz or any player connected to PED usage, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Ken Kendrick, the D'Backs' managing general partner, is a key figure behind this unofficial policy, though a few exceptions have been made on the roster and on the coaching staff. As Piecoro notes, D'Backs reliever Brad Ziegler was openly critical of the Cardinals' recent signing of Jhonny Peralta, another player who missed time with a PED suspension last season.
- Justin Morneau is the Rockies' "primary target," Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes. Renck reported yesterday that Colorado was "aggressively pursuing" Morneau, and he feels the former AL MVP could thrive at Coors Field.
- Mariners chairman and CEO Howard Lincoln tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that the team's payroll budget will be higher than last season's $95MM mark (of which around $84MM was spent). "It’s certainly going to be above what we budgeted last year,” Lincoln said. “How much? For competitive purposes, I’m not prepared to say. But it certainly is not going to go down.” Lincoln also talks about the search to replace retiring president/COO Chuck Armstrong.
- For more from the West divisions, check out Jeff Todd's collection of NL West Notes from earlier today on MLBTR.
The Astros may not have a realistic shot at winning next season, but they can offer playing time and have a bright future, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. "Someone looking to win a World Series title next year may not think about the Astros as the first place to go sign," says GM Jeff Luhnow. "But having said that, we also have an opportunity."
Luhnow also says the Astros could make a major move if the right opportunity presented itself. "If it’s the right situation for the right player, the right length of years. Houston’s a big city," he says. "We’ve got the capacity to compete with the big boys ultimately, and whether or not we start this year or next year after that, I think eventually it’s coming." Whether a top-notch free agent would be willing to come to Houston at this point is an open question, however. Here's more from around the big leagues.
- The Astros aren't likely to acquire first baseman Ike Davis in a trade with the Mets, Drellich writes. Drellich also notes that the Astros did not have interest in Marlon Byrd, who recently signed with the Philles. Still, the Astros are hoping to add a power bat at first base or in the outfield, and they're open to finding one via free agency or trade.
- The Athletics' signing of Nick Punto doesn't mean they're likely to deal Jed Lowrie, writes the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Punto "has nothing to do with Jed Lowrie. Jed is our starting shortstop," says A's assistant GM David Forst. Lowrie is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
- Brian Wilson wouldn't mind returning to the Dodgers as something other than a closer, as long as they pay him like one, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweets. Wilson was excellent down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, but they already have a very good closer in Kenley Jansen.
- Free agent Jamey Carroll is attracting interest, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. The infielder will be 40 in February, but he does not want to retire. Carroll hit .211/.267/.251 in 249 plate appearances with the Twins and Royals last season.
- Lefty Randy Wolf is on the comeback trail after sitting out the 2013 season, and he plans to audition for MLB teams later this month, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. Wolf posted a 5.65 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 157 2/3 innings with the Brewers and Orioles in 2012.
The latest out of the AL West..
- The Rangers are high on catcher Brian McCann, but a few GM's are thinking Texas still has interest in Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- The Rangers have put their pursuit of free agent pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza (as well as top trade target David Price) to the side as they seek out a big bat, writes Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
- In an appearance on 95.7 The Game, A's manager Bob Melvin threw cold water on the idea that Jed Lowrie could be traded to the Cardinals, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. "Maybe [the Cardinals] made a call and inquired about him ... we’re not looking to move Jed Lowrie."
- Athletics GM Billy Beane spoke with Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com about the GM Meetings and his club's needs. Beane says he's on the lookout for backend bullpen help, a right-handed hitting outfielder to replace Chris Young, and added that there is mutual interest in a return between the A's and Bartolo Colon.
- Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com examines Carlos Beltran as a possible target for the Rangers.
The A's announced that they have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a vesting option on 2015 with infielder Nick Punto. Punto's deal is for $2.75MM in 2014 and he'll have the opportunity to earn the same amount the following year, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). The option is based on days spent on the disabled list and comes with a $250K buyout if it's not exercised.
Athletics assistant GM David Forst tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) that the signing has nothing to do with Jed Lowrie and insisted that he is still the club's starting shortstop. Forst added (Twitter links) that if Punto's option does not vest, it turns into a club option. Forst also disclosed that the option vests if Punto spends less than 30 days on the disabled list, but there are other ways that he can get the option to trigger if he exceeds that number.
The 36-year-old Punto offers experience at second base, shortstop, and third base. In 116 games last season, the veteran hit .255/.328/.327 in 116 games for the Dodgers last season. Across 13 big league seasons, Punto owns a .248..325/.325 batting line while offering quality defense in the infield.
Punto is represented by Jeff Caulfield, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
The Cardinals are shopping for an upgrade at shortstop and Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily hears that Jed Lowrie of the Athletics is now on their list. The A's could theoretically move Lowrie to fill a need elsewhere and promote Addison Russell to the majors this season.
Meanwhile, despite the speculation that the Athletics would move Lowrie, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) hears that it won't happen. The plan all along has been for him to be a two-year bridge to Russell and they are now entering year two.
Lowrie, 29, hit .290/.344/.446 in 662 plate appearances last season for the A's. The veteran came to Oakland in a five-player deal with the Astros in February 2013 .
Former Expos and Orioles GM Jim Beattie, who's now a pro scout for the Blue Jays, says the Jays are looking for help at second base and in their bullpen, Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network notes. "We’re always looking for pitching depth in the bullpen and our situation at second place is a little unsettled," Beattie says. "We have two guys (Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis) there but they’re not everyday guys." Here are more notes from the American League.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow explains the rationale that led the team to replace Jed Lowrie with Tyler Greene, and then to replace Greene with Ronny Cedeno, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports. "When the Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno, he was a player that we had targeted during the offseason. But we had Lowrie most of the offseason, so we weren't aggressive," says Luhnow. "When (Cedeno) became available, we went back to our original plan, which was to try and get him in here." The Cardinals signed Cedeno in late January, while the Astros did not trade Lowrie (to the Athletics) until early February.
- Reliever Kameron Loe is hoping to stay with the Mariners, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The Mariners need to decide by Tuesday whether to open a roster spot for Loe, or the non-roster pitcher could exercise an out clause in his contract. "I hope we can work something out," Loe says. "I really like it here." Loe posted a 4.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 68 1/3 innings for the Brewers in 2012.
The Athletics and Astros completed a five-player trade that fortifies the 2013 A’s and adds depth to Houston’s organization. Infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez join the Athletics in exchange for first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi. Here’s the latest reaction to the trade, which was officially announced last night:
- While the deal fits into Houston’s long-term vision, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders how low the Astros can go before becoming an embarrassment to MLB. The Astros have lost a total of 213 games since 2011, and it seems likely that they’ll struggle again in 2013. “There aren’t many years where you can say one team will definitely have the No. 1 pick,” a rival GM told Rosenthal. “But they will definitely have the No. 1.” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow maintains that his primary objective is putting together a consistent winner. “Whether that’s ’14, ’15, ’16, we don’t know. But that’s what we’re working toward. So, any move we make has to be seen in that light.”
- The Astros added three young players with value, "but no star potential" ESPN.com's Keith Law writes. It's a good return in terms of value, though none of the newcomers are likely to become All-Stars. Law wonders if the Astros could have obtained a possible star in the deal instead of adding depth.
- The 2013 Athletics have a deeper, better infield following the trade, FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan explains. Meanwhile, the Astros have more talent now than they did at this time yesterday.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney points out that Bud Norris’ $3MM salary now leads the Astros. That’s less than the average MLB salary and what Zack Greinke will earn in three weeks, as Olney points out. It's possible the Astros will have a historically poor record. "What you question is, how bad can they be," an NL official told Olney.
- Entering the offseason it was clear the A’s needed to bolster the left side of their infield, and I like that they’ve managed to accomplish that goal at a reasonable cost. That said, I can see why the Astros decided to move Lowrie at a time that his trade value remains reasonably high.
The Astros announced that they sent shortstop Jed Lowrie to the Athletics in a five-player trade. The Astros acquire first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi from the A's in the deal, which sends right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland along with Lowrie.
The Astros are trading Lowrie approximately one year after acquiring him from the Red Sox. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow maintained throughout the offseason that he didn't want to trade Lowrie unless he could obtain impact players in return.
“This trade gives us power, pitching and catching,” Luhnow said in a statement released by the team. “Three valuable commodities that will help improve our organization.”
Lowrie, who turns 29 in April, enjoyed arguably his best season in 2012 -- his lone season in Houston. After being traded from the Red Sox along with Kyle Weiland in exchange for Mark Melancon, Lowrie hit .244/.331/.438. He hit a career-high 16 home runs, but was held to just 97 games due to a thumb sprain and an ankle injury. Unfortunately, those 97 games also represent a career-best for Lowrie as well.
Lowrie is set to earn $2.4MM in 2013 after avoiding arbitration with the Astros last month. He'll be eligible for arbitration a third and final time next offseason and is eligible for free agency following the 2014 season. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out (on Twitter), the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.
The 28-year-old Rodriguez struggled in 2012, posting a 5.37 ERA in 70 1/3 frames for the Astros. However, his FIP (4.22) and xFIP (4.23) are nearly identical to the marks he posted in 2011 when his ERA was 3.96. He averaged 93.9 mph on his heater last season and has fanned 136 batters in 123 1/3 innings. He can be controlled through 2017.
Peacock, who turned 25 on Saturday, ranked fourth on Baseball America's list of Top 10 Athletics prospects. The right-hander was a key component of last winter's Gio Gonzalez trade but had a down season in 2012. He had a 6.01 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 134 2/3 innings for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate. BA's Jim Shonerd wrote in November that Peacock pitched up in the zone too frequently in 2012, and added:
"When he's going well, he still shows three quality pitches. Peacock's fastball works at 91-95 mph but lacks movement, underscoring the need for better command. He also flashes a sharp curveball and a changeup with depth. He has added a slider/cutter hybrid to help induce weak contact, but it remains a work in progress."
Stassi, 21, entered the season as Oakland's No. 14 prospect, according to BA. He spent 2012 at High-A Stockton, where he batted .268/.331/.468 with 15 homers in 360 trips to the plate. He's been bothered by shoulder problems throughout his professional career, but BA praises his compact swing, solid power and ability to use the middle of the field.
The 26-year-old Carter is a former top prospect in his own right, and he displayed the power that earned him that distinction in 2012. Carter batted .239/.350/.514 with 16 homers in 260 plate appearances for the A's. He is under team control through 2018 and is not yet eligible for arbitration.
Beane has now traded away two of the four players he acquired in last offseason's trade of Gonzalez. He moved A.J. Cole back to Washington in a trade that sent John Jaso to the A's and Mike Morse to the Mariners. Tommy Milone and Derek Norris still remain a part of the A's organization.
Steve Adams also contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Athletics talked to the Astros about a possible trade involving Jed Lowrie earlier this winter, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The A's weren't prepared to meet Houston's asking price of both Chris Carter and a young pitcher in exchange for Lowrie, who has drawn interest from several teams this winter. Hiroyuki Nakajima has since been signed and is slated to be Oakland's regular shortstop, though Slusser speculates that the A's could revisit Lowrie if they develop a need for an infielder during the season.
Lowrie was limited to 387 plate appearances last season due to DL stints with ankle and thumb injuries, and .244/.331/.438 with 16 homers in his first season in Houston. He was arb-eligible for the second time this winter, avoiding the process by agreeing to a one-year, $2.4MM deal with the Astros.
The A's could also add depth at shortstop in the form of Cuban prospect Aledmys Diaz, as Slusser reports the club will have scouts at Diaz's workout later this month. At least ten teams (including the Twins and Cardinals) are known to be interested in Diaz, a 23-year-old who can be signed without having his salary count against the international signing cap.