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Jed Lowrie signing: TCB staff reacts to the newest Houston infielder

What did our writers think about the Astros adding former Astro Jed Lowrie?

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hey, Jed Lowrie is back with the Astros. What does that mean for the team going forward? Well, our staff weighed in on the contract, what it means and where Lowrie will play. We even talked about his defense a bit.

TRosser92:

I would have been happy with the Astros signing Lowrie at 3/$30 million. I think his ability to play SS, 3B, and 2B with a solid bat makes that contract very acceptable.

But to sign him for 3/$22 million with a club option for a fourth year at $6 million is a great deal for the Astros. If Lowrie can hit for .250/.320/.390 with between 8-12 homers it will be a significant improvement over the output from the SS and 3B position last year. If one of Dominguez & Villar can perform well enough to earn a spot in the lineup, this team will be substantially better in 2015.

TidewaterAstros:

My initial reaction: I love everything about this. The Astros, a team argued by many to be unable or willing to sign quality FAs, has now signed three in the course of a week or so.

Perry Mattern:

This is a great deal for Houston at this point in the Astros rebuild towards becoming a playoff team. Most likely due to a rough 2014 season, Lowrie was picked up for cheap and the deal is front loaded. If he becomes expendable when it is Correa and Ruiz/Moran time on the left side of the infield in the next three years, Houston will be able to shop a proven MLB commodity not making a ton of money.

The only downside to me is the initial insistence by Houston that Lowrie will play shortstop. This is subject to change, but the Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch made it quite clear that Lowrie will be the Astros shortstop in 2015 despite defensive numbers not supporting Lowrie at short. My hope is that Houston uses him often at third unless there is a drastic change in performance from Matt Dominguez. Marwin Gonzalez, who is solid at short and had a quiet breakout with the bat in 2014, deserves playing time. With all that being said, however, Lowrie is much more proven and consistent than Gonzalez, Dominguez and Jonathan Villar. Good pickup on the relative cheap for the Astros.

Tim:

Lowrie's defense has been around average his entire career in both UZR and dWAR. Sure, DRS doesn't like his numbers, but outside of Oakland he was only slightly below average at shortstop. I don't get why people are so opposed to him at shortstop. Villar has been pretty bad defensively and Gonzalez is a utility infielder.

Anthony:

I don't trust defensive metrics, and to my eyes, Lowrie is a below-average to well-below-average defensive shortstop. I strongly prefer him at third base, with Marwin at shortstop. I suspect that by the end of this season, never mind this contract, he ends up playing more third than short.

That said, I love love love this signing... I'll like it more if Lowrie ends up playing more time at third base than at shortstop, but either way he's a great fit for this team. I can't help but wonder what those who were quick to say the Astros "lost" the Lowrie trade think now -- as now he ends up back with the Astros - alongside Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi.

Ernie Breakfast:

Let me preface this by saying I have always been a fan of Dominguez, and hope he rebounds to his 2013 numbers. It is not a popular opinion with the masses, but I don't think it is a foregone conclusion that Matty D is done as a starting MLB third baseman. Who knows, maybe 2014 was a fluke. Maybe the man was just in a bad place, and needed an offseason to get everything straightened out.

That being said, signing Jed Lowrie was the smart play. Signing him at that price was almost a no-brainer in their situation. A huge weakness in the organization has been strengthened. If Matty D does have a comeback year, we have a solid SS next to him, and a pretty good bench player in Marwin behind them both. If he does not have a comeback year, Marwin moves into the starting lineup (at either position, but preferably SS) and the problem is (hopefully) solved.

I also am glad the team was able to sign 3 free agents, and didn't really overpay much (or at all) for any of them. They may not have been the shiniest, most exciting free agents of this class, but they are not leftovers or castoffs either. Maybe the big, exciting free agent signings come next year, after the Astros finish above .500 for the first time in many years. Baby steps, my friends...I think 2015 is going to be a fun season.

Brian Stevenson:

This move just seemed like such a good fit that it was bound to happen. Lowrie can play short until Correa is ready, and the move to third. Or he can play third immediately with Marwin getting a second shot at short (he actually hit well in 2014, after all). Once Correa and Moran are up, the front-loaded nature of the deal makes it even easier to deal Lowrie elsewhere. There's virtually no downside to this move, and we got Lowrie for less than most projection models have him earning. I don't think it's a stretch to call this a fabulous move.

JamesVanAwesome:

I'm a big fan of this move for all the reasons already outlined by the TCBerati, but I do have one question: if Lowrie was available for less than Billy Butler money, why didn't the A's just resign him?

TidewaterAstros:

We may have gotten a hometown discount.

Clack:

A solid, if unspectacular, signing. I have been thinking for awhile that Lowrie made the most sense for the Astros. The versatility is a plus, and means that he can be moved around the diamond over the course of his contract, which has some value for the Astros, who don't know which prospects will produce and when. I also feel like Lowrie is a bit of a buy-low opportunity. He lost some offensive power last season, and there is a decent chance that he will gain some of that power back. I also think he is a smart baseball player who will fit in well with this organization. He joins several other Stanford grads, including the catcher, the manager, and a first round pick starting pitcher.

CRPerry:

I will be interested to see how the Astros use Lowrie next season. There's still "prospect juice" left in Matt Dominguez at third and Jonathan Villar at short, so I wonder if there's another deal in the works to move a superfluous player while some shine still remains. There's no denying that Lowrie struggled at the plate last season, but he seems to have been bitten by the bad BABIP bug, and so I expect an improvement. Steamer agrees. ZiPS isn't as optimistic. Oh well. Lowrie's a clear upgrade over the performance the Astros got at third base last season, and a very likely upgrade over doomed-to-regress Marwin Gonzalez. Lowrie's not going to block anybody, he can play multiple positions, he seems like a cool dude, and the contract is reasonable. A very smart free agent signing.

IrishPete:

Paul Clemens won't stop texting me about how bad of a move this is...

Brian Stevenson:

Can't wait to see what Blum and Ash's reactions are.

IrishPete:

I will say that this is a fantastic signing for the Astros, but what stands out to me is the easy math behind it. You only have to rely on ONE of three in this group: Marwin Gonzalez, Matt Dominguez, and Jonathan Villar. Villar and Dominguez both are decent rebound candidates. Sadly, we all know that Marwin is unlikely to repeat his productive season last year (.330 BABIP).

The 2014 Astros relied on two out of these three for much of the season. This led to left side of the infield well below replacement level. Now some combination of Lowrie and Marwin/Villar/MattyD should hopefully make the left side of the infield at least MLB average.

Idrees:

Even for harshest of critics, there simply is not much to dislike about this deal. 3 years for a total of $23MM? Nice. Oh, there is a 4th year team option for only $6M (and a $1M buyout)? Even better. Oh, the contract is front-loaded, which increases payroll flexibility in the future, while simultaneously increases his trade value if the Astros so choose to take that route in a year or two? Wow, this is a tremendous deal for a quality big league player, who just so happens to address an immediate need on the left side of the infield.

All of the above should be fairly obvious, but what really intrigues me about this signing, is that it actually creates more questions than it answers. And I say that in a good way, as it provides the front office with flexibility. This signing provides them with roster flexibility, and Lowrie's positional flexibility cannot be overlooked. I personally think he plays passable defense at SS, and can also handle 3B and 2B well (although 2B is more of a moot point, with Altuve entrenched there for hopefully the foreseeable future). So what does this mean for Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Villar, and Matt Dominguez? I have read reports that teams have interest for Marwin's services. Does this signing allow us to pull the trigger on a deal? I am not necessarily saying that we should, but Lowrie plus the return the Astros receive in a deal for Marwin might provide more value than just Marwin, and at least warrants consideration. Or perhaps we use Marwin in a super-utility role, as he provides nice positional flexibility as well. What if Matt Dominguez develops and improves upon last year, and he provides sound defense with more frequent pop in his bat (and less strikeouts). If a contender loses their everyday 3B to injury, does this signing now provide us with enough depth to sell high on Dominguez for a nice return (Lowrie could slide to 3B and Marwin could stay at SS)?

Again, I am not necessarily for or against any of these hypotheticals. What I am saying though is that this signing provides the front office with options. Just thinking about what this front office pulled off without a ton of flexibility or leverage (immediately thinking of the Carlos Lee deal, which ironically is how we acquired Matt Dominguez), and I hope you can see why I am excited about the potential. 2015 is going to be fun (now sign Kris Medlen, and this will be just about as good of an offseason as reasonably expected)!

Terri Schlather:

I'm just happy that I can once again sit in the stands and sing,

"Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A 'Stros infielder, tryin' to keep his glove fed,
Then one day he was traded away
But not for very long cause he's back again today.

Luhnow did it, tradin fast, tradin smart."