The Astros added some offense to their infield on Monday when the club agreed to terms with infielder Jed Lowrie on a three-year deal with an option for 2018. Lowrie had been with Houston during the 2012 season.
Lowrie: Back to the future
(c) Associated Press
Projected to be the regular shortstop while Carlos Correa matures in the minors, Lowrie has the versatility to play all over the infield, is a switch-hitter who has good plate discipline and enough power to be respected throughout the lineup.
Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar will likely fight over the utility infield roster spot now. Gonzalez would project to be the favorite there after a solid season in 2014. The Astros are not finished shopping this winter though, as they still have to resolve their catching situation among other question marks.
Lowrie was acquired from Boston in General Manager Jeff Luhnow's first big trade with the Astros. He batted .244 with 16 homers in 97 games in 2012 then was swapped the next winter to Oakland for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi. All of them are still with Houston. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons with Oakland while helping them to two playoff appearances.
Lowrie played at Stanford University before turning pro which is also where new manager A.J. Hinch went to college. Lowrie is expected to provide hustle, preparation and veteran experience. He will turn 31 in April.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Lowrie's new contract will cost $8 million this coming season, $7.5 million in 2016, $6.5 million in 2017 and a $6 million team option in 2018 that can be bought out for $1 million, making $23 million total in guaranteed money. Part of the beauty of the contract is that it will cost less as other players coming up through the system will cost more.
In other news, the Astros announced they have settled with 2014 fifth-round draft choice Jacob Nix for an undisclosed sum. Nix and the players union filed a grievance after the Astros agreed to sign Nix last summer then backed out when they could not sign top choice Brady Aiken. Had they been forced to honor their offer, Houston would have been over the union-agreed draft signing pool and forfeited future high draft picks. Having this dispute settled, allows the ballclub to keep a better handle on both their budget and their future draft positions. It would be curious to see if the high school righthander and the Astros ever cross paths again.
- Bob Hulsey