The 2018 Chicago Cubs hitting woes kept them from glory. Adding Jed Lowrie would be a significant step toward regaining dominance in the National League.
After his breakout year that saw him slash .290/.326/.554 with 34 home runs and 111 RBI’s, he has proven himself among the sluggers in the Cubbie infield. In his age-25 season, Baez played 65 games at short, mostly due to Russell’s abysmal .250/.340/.340 season which saw him club a meager five home runs and drive in 38 runs in 420 at-bats.
With Baez and Kris Bryant on the left side of the infield and Anthony Rizzo anchored in at first, there appears to be a Jed Lowrie-sized hole at second base. Before you say the words “Daniel Murphy,” whose bat fits into the Cub lineup nicely, the North Siders do not need a defensive liability like Murphy in their everyday lineup. In addition, Ben Zobrist had a nice bounce-back .305/.378/.440 year in 2018, the utility role fits him best heading into his age-38 season. Enter Lowrie.
More familiarity with Lowrie
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Lowrie was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (45th) of the 2005 June amateur draft. Who was the Red Sox general manager at the time? None other than 32-year-old Theo Epstein.
In addition, during the summer of 2005, Jed Hoyer worked as the Red Sox assistant to the general manager (insert Dwight Schrute joke here). Since the current Cubs brain trust drafted Lowrie, you can assume he’s a guy they have insight into.
Since leaving Boston in 2011, Lowrie has bounced between the Astros and Athletics, playing for both teams twice since the 2012 season. His best years have come with Oakland where he has put up 11.0 WAR over five years with a 4.0 in 2017 and 4.8 in 2018. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors points out
"Only two second basemen — Jose Ramirez and Jose Altuve — have been better than Lowrie by measure of WAR over the past two seasons."
Lowrie just might be a diamond in the rough. The second baseman made his first All-Star team this past season, ending the year with a .267/.353/.448 line in addition to 23 homers and 99 RBI.
The Oregon native will enter his age-35 season in 2019. He’s never made more than $8 million a year and has never had anything longer than a three-year contract. The deal that just expired had a team option for a fourth year, which Oakland picked up for only $6 million. Lowrie could likely be had on a two-year deal with a larger AAV or maybe a three-year pact. Tim Dierkes predicts Lowrie re-signing with the Athletics for $30 million over three years.
Jed Lowrie is a guy who won’t win a Gold Glove, but he’s not going to hurt you on defense either. Between growing up in the Pacific Northwest and playing ball at Stanford, he has west coast roots, but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer need to convince Lowrie that the Midwest is the final stop in his underrated baseball career.