The St. Louis Cardinals continue to widen their net in the search for a new shortstop, according to Peter Gammons.
The longtime baseball writer says that the Redbirds have expressed interest in Oakland Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie.
Lowrie is a bit of a Ryan Theriot-type candidate in that he also plays second and third base, something of a glorified utility player. In a career that includes stops in Houston and Boston before landing in Oakland, Lowrie has played 359 games at short, 83 at third base and 58 games at second. He's also chipped in 11 games at first base and has been a designated hitter 13 times.
Lowrie isn't a whole lot different than incumbent St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma in that he has a good glove, nice range and a mediocre bat. He's a .264 hitter over his career with a .332 on-base percentage. 2013 was his best season in the majors, however. He hit .290 with 15 homers. It was the second time in his six seasons that Lowrie hit better than .258 or cracked double digit homers.
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I'm curious about where Lowrie got his sudden power. His 16 homers in 97 games last season with the Astros might have been dismissed as a figment of Minute Maid Park had he not followed up with 15 dingers in the huge home park of the Athletics.
Unlike some of the other potential targets of the Cardinals, Lowrie doesn't come with a big money contract. He made $2.4 million last year with Oakland and remains under team control.
Gammons suggests that the Athletics might be willing to park with Lowrie because shortstop prospect Addison Russell might be ready for the big leagues. But Lowrie is cheap and there is probably not much incentive to deal him because of his versatility.
The Cardinals could potentially make a play for Lowrie to try to drive the price of Elvis Andrus or or Troy Tulowitzki down because they'd appear less desperate to get a deal for one of those guys done. Lowrie, a switch hitter, might make a wonderful utility infielder for the Birds who could let David Freese go to save money toward a big ticket player, move Carpenter to third and let Kolten Wong play second. Lowrie would be a nice insurance policy if Wong doesn't prove that he can hit MLB pitching. Or he could be a super sub who starts against lefty pitchers.
Besides the different financial picture, Oakland isn't likely to ask for Oscar Taveras in exchange for Lowrie. Or Shelby Miller, for that matter.