Just as the Athletics are interested in extending designated hitter Khris Davis, they’re also considering a new deal for second baseman Jed Lowrie, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. Unlike Davis, who’s controllable via arbitration in 2019, Lowrie is slated to hit free agency at season’s end.
Rosenthal proposes a two-year, $15MM extension, which would represent a slight annual increase over the $6MM Lowrie is raking in this season on a club option. Given that he’ll play his age-35 season in 2019, a long-term deal will be hard to come by for Lowrie, though he has made his case for a pay raise dating back to last year.
The switch-hitting Lowrie racked up the second-most games played (153) and plate appearances (645) of his career in 2017, when he slashed an easily above-average .277/.360/.448 with 14 home runs en route to a personal-high 3.5 fWAR. Executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane offered effusive praise for Lowrie after the season, and though the veteran later came up in winter trade rumors, the Athletics ended up retaining him.
Keeping Lowrie has paid dividends in 2018 for the A’s, who have exceeded expectations to post the American League’s sixth-best record (49-40) and are 6 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot. Lowrie has been a key part of their success, having already surpassed last year’s HR total (15) and logged 3.1 fWAR in just 379 PAs. He has also batted .291/.359/.503, giving him the A’s top wRC+ (139), and appeared in 86 of the team’s 89 games. The durability Lowrie has demonstrated since last season is especially notable for a player who has dealt with his share of injury issues dating back to his 2008 debut with the Red Sox. Indeed, Lowrie has only amassed 100-plus appearances three times.
Along with his past injury troubles, both the A’s and Lowrie will have to weigh his age in deciding his future. Free agency has been unkind lately to 30-somethings, particularly this past winter, which may point Lowrie toward an in-season extension if Oakland ends up offering one at a fair price. Otherwise, Lowrie could be one of five free agents for the low-payroll A’s, whose only guaranteed salaries for 2019 currently belong to reliever Yusmeiro Petit ($5.5MM) and right fielder Stephen Piscotty ($7.33MM). The A’s otherwise have nothing but arbitration-eligible and pre-arb players, including 22-year-old middle infielder and potential Lowrie successor Franklin Barreto, whom they “would not necessarily” be worried about blocking because he’s so young, Rosenthal says.