With the likelihood of the team losing starting shortstop Jed Lowrie via free agency, the Oakland Athletics are keeping tabs on a few available options in the free agent pool. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Athletics are “checking in” on shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew as possible backup plans in the likely scenario of Lowrie leaving Oakland.
Although neither of the two shortstop options produced the offensive numbers that would gauge much interest from teams in 2014, their defensive ability could lead the Athletics to buying low and hoping for the best. Former Los Angeles Dodgers’ shortstop Hanley Ramirez is available on the open market this offseason, but it can be rightfully assumed that Oakland will be unable to land him due to the fact he is way out of the team’s price range.
Cabrera was an offensive threat as recently as 2011, when he hit .273/.332/.460 with 25 home runs and 92 RBI for the Cleveland Indians. Since then he’s been average hitting by major league standards, accumulating 112, 94, and 97 wRC+ totals over the past three seasons. This past year Cabrera slashed .241/.307/.387 with 14 HR and 71 RBI, adding a .694 OPS, 96 OPS+, and 0.9 bWAR between the Indians and Washington Nationals.
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Following a 2013 campaign where Stephen Drew slashed .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 67 runs batted for the Boston Red Sox, Drew drastically dropped all the way to rock bottom, and maybe even lower. Only producing a 44 wRC+ between the New York Yankees and the Red Sox, Drew hit .162/.237/.299 in 85 total games between the two teams, along with seven home runs, 26 runs batted in, 50 OPS+ and a -0.3 bWAR combined between Boston and New York.
As surprising as this may sound, Stephen Drew could better fit Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane‘s needs. His above-average defensive skills and possibility of improvement make him a viable option for Oakland. Also coming along with a cheap price tag, his 8.9% career walk per plate appearance rate suggests that he could fit the Athletics’ style of getting on base.