Jed Lowrie‘s second stint with the Oakland Athletics has been extended another year, with the front office picking up his $6 million option for 2018. This may cause a scramble for the future of Oakland’s middle infield muddled until he leaves.
On Thursday, the Oakland Athletics decided exercise Jed Lowrie’s option, worth $6 million, for the 2018 season. The 34-year old was one of the few constants in the A’s lineup last year, playing in 151 games.
He sported a 4.0 WAR while slashing .277/14/69 last season. However, keeping Lowrie in the organization remains the logjam in the middle infield Oakland backed up.
With the acceptance of Lowrie’s option, the biggest blockade will be placed on youngster Franklin Barretto. Baretto, the #1 prospect in the A’s system and #32 in the MLB, was called up for 25 games in 2017.
He significantly underperformed and ended up being demoted soon after being called up. Although he failed to meet expectations, the fact he made an appearance in 2017 displays the immediate nature of Baretto being a full-time Athletic. However, keeping Lowrie gives the A’s an opportunity to hone Baretto’s skills for one more season.
Chad Pinder, the A’s backup second baseman in the majors, faces more uncertainty about his playing time now that Lowrie has resigned.
Pinder, who can also play in the outfield, was expected to platoon with players like Matt Joyce, Boog Powell, and Jake Smolinski in the outfield next season, but denying Lowrie’s club option could have freed up an opportunity to solidify Pinder’s status as an everyday player. Stuck in a four-man rotation, Pinder may not find a chance to shine in Oakland.
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In their top 30 prospect list, the Oakland A’s have four-second baseman on the verge of being called up. They have another five listed as shortstops, which will certainly give Oakland a dilemma when deciding the two men who will man the middle infield. The main competition facing Lowrie will be Joey Wendle.
Wendle is in a similar scenario as Franklin Baretto, without the star prospect chip on his shoulder. Since Jed Lowrie’s option keeps him around another year, Wendle’s roster spot will continue to be occupied by the veteran.
However, Wendle has shown flashed of brilliance in his time in the majors. He had a .308 batting average since he was called up in September, and has similar numbers the prior year, which made a compelling argument for him to be a bench player in the majors this year.
Jed Lowrie can feel confident in his position as the starting second baseman in Oakland Athletics this year. On the other hand, he would have to beat out stiff competition if he wants to stay in the green and gold into 2019.