Bob Levey/Getty Images
After a career year in 2013, Lowrie is having one of his worst in 2014.
Re-signing shortstop Jed Lowrie, or not re0signing him, may be the biggest decision the A's face this offseason.
Initially, Oakland intended for Lowrie to be a stopgap until prospect Addison Russell became ready for the big leagues. But in going all-in, general manager Billy Beane sent Russell to the Chicago Cubs in a deal that included Jeff Samardzija. Next-best prospect Daniel Robertson is currently in Single-A and a ways away from making his big league debut.
Hence, the A's need a shortstop.
Looking at soon-to-be free agents, however, Beane may be wise to act swiftly with Lowrie. Big names such as Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera and J.J. Hardy headline the category. Lowrie and Jimmy Rollins represent the next tier of talent at shortstop. It's worth noting that Rollins has an option, so he may avoid free agency altogether. After that, there's not much left.
The top three should be snatched up for hefty sums of money. Then attention will turn to Lowrie and Rollins, should he be available. If not, Lowrie becomes that much more valuable. But even if Oakland-born Rollins is available, Lowrie is five years younger and could still be $5 million cheaper.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle said it best:
If Oakland opts to give Lowrie an extension, though, the team might get a bit of a break: Lowrie's batting average took a hit during his funk in May and June, and he's part of a club that has put together the best record in baseball. If ever there is a time to get a good all-around shortstop at a slightly reduced rate, it would be now, because Lowrie certainly is happy playing for Oakland.
The sooner the organization decides on what to do with Lowrie, the better it will be for its pocketbook.