The A’s have reemerged as a serious contender in the AL West, and ever since they realized they were for real again the race to get a worthy shortstop has been on. Billy Beane went out and grabbed Stephen Drew from Arizona last summer, and now he’s come to terms on a deal with new division mate Houston to bring Jed Lowrie to town. Lowrie and reliever Fernando Rodriguez will join Oakland in exchange for power hitting first baseman Chris Carter, catching prospect Max Stassi, and young starter Brad Peacock. The move solidifies Oakland’s desire to contend and Houston’s desire to not be the Astros of the past few seasons any longer than necessary.
Lowrie is obviously the big name player at the heart of this deal. He’s coming off a fine season in which he hit .244/.331/.438 with 16 homers in 387 PA before succumbing to injuries, and he was worth 2.5 WAR per FanGraphs in that time. Those are nice numbers for a shortstop, and he figures to continue to display more pop than many others at the position. The A’s aren’t long on superstars, but they aren’t short on solid, quality players either. They’re once again getting the job done much differently than the other premium teams in the American League.
Jeff Luhnow has done quite a nice job overturning his roster to gear up for a future run, and this time it’s the powerful Chris Carter he has acquired. Carter finally did something with a shot at Major League playing time in 2012, hitting .239/.350/.514 and slugging 16 home runs in 260 PA. It seems like Carter is well-suited to delivering 30 bombs across a full season and taking some walks, though he can’t really handle any position adequately with the glove and he isn’t likely to hit for much average thanks to massive strikeout rates. Max Stassi will be 22 on opening day, but he hasn’t yet risen above high-A competition. He’s a young catcher with some power, though, so he may have a place on the Astros down the road. Brad Peacock is a solid pitching hopeful who deals out a myriad of different offerings and could turn into a mid-rotation asset if everything breaks right.
I like this trade a lot for the A’s simply because it fills an important need without surrendering any crucial pieces. I also don’t want to condemn the move for the Astros, as there isn’t much need for veterans on a team that seems doomed to lose another 100 games in the short-term, and Carter should provide the lineup with some much-needed pop. I think the A’s may have gotten the better end of things given the consensus opinions on the young players Houston received, but I still think something like this is ultimately a good sign for the Astros.