The A’s reunited with a familiar face Wednesday, acquiring infielder Jed Lowrie in a trade with the Houston Astros for minor-league pitcher Brendan McCurry.
Lowrie, 31, was the A’s starting shortstop on their playoff teams of 2013 and 2014 before signing a three-year deal with the Astros before last season. Following a last-place finish in 2015, the A’s bring back a versatile infielder who – when healthy – has a good offensive track record.
Shortstop is Lowrie’s primary position. The A’s also return Marcus Semien, who started 147 games at shortstop last season. Oakland general manager David Forst said Lowrie’s defensive role has not been determined, but he figures to be a regular in the lineup.
“We acquired Jed to play,” Forst said during a conference call. “Exactly where, we’ve got some time to figure that out. But he’s too good of an offensive player not to be in there somewhere every day.”
Lowrie, a switch hitter who batted .290 with 15 home runs in his best season in Oakland in 2013, has said he prefers the consistency of playing one position. Forst left open that possibility but said Lowrie’s versatility gives the A’s options. Lowrie moved to third base last season in Houston after eventual American League Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa reached the majors, and he also has experience playing second base.
Semien led the majors in errors in 2015 in his first season as an everyday shortstop. Forst said the A’s still consider shortstop Semien’s position but added that Semien is also capable of moving around the infield.
“I still see Marcus as a shortstop,” Forst said. “Obviously last year he played exclusively shortstop. But we do know as we build a team going forward over the next few months that he has played the other two infield spots and played them well.”
Lowrie has dealt with injuries throughout his major-league career and played in just 69 games for the Astros last season, missing three months because of torn thumb ligament, but Forst said Wednesday: “He’s healthy.”
To reacquire Lowrie, the A’s parted with McCurry, a 23-year-old right-hander who led their farm system last year with 27 saves while posting a combined 1.86 ERA at Class A and Double A.
To clear a spot on their 40-man roster, the A’s designated left-handed pitcher Daniel Coulombe for assignment. Oakland also released right-hander A.J. Griffin, who was designated for assignment last week.