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Jed Lowrie signing: Looking back at the Astros trade that sent Lowrie to Oakland

Houston got three players and gave up two years of Lowrie. Now that they've reacquired Lowrie, how does that trade look for the Astros?

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Say one thing for Billy Beane. He's not shy about making trades that could hurt him in the future.

He's traded away guys like Carlos Gonzalez before. He traded away Andre Ethier before his breakout. He shuffles the deck constantly, like his controversial mid-season deals in 2014.

Back in 2013, he made another move to send future pieces to Houston for two years of Jed Lowrie. In return, Houston got designated hitter Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi.

Let's look at the impact of that deal now that Lowrie is back in H-Town. What kind of money did the Astros save? How much production did they lose? How many years of service did they net?

We'll be using FanGraphs' WAR calculations for comparison here. No, it's not a perfect metric, but it works as a quick way to compare player impact. We also won't be making any assumptions about how many games Houston won or lost during this stretch, just seeing the impact of these moves on the Astros.

The Money

Houston traded away Jed Lowrie during his second arbitration season. Lowrie had agreed with the Astros on a $2.4 million, one-year contract to avoid arbitration about three weeks before he was traded.

The infielder made another $5.25 million on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration last season with Oakland. He's now making $23 million over three years with a $1 million buyout on a $6 million club option.

Chris Carter made $494,000 in 2013 and $510,000 in 2014. He should make around $550,000 in 2015.

Brad Peacock made $490,000 in 2013 and $504,300 in 2014 and should make around that much in 2015.

Max Stassi is making peanuts, as do most minor leaguers. He did, however, pull down a hefty $1 million bonus in the draft, but that doesn't affect the Astros.

So, Oakland paid Lowrie $7.65 million for two years while Houston paid their players around $3 million for six years of service. The Astros, then, saved around $4 million by trading Lowrie to Oakland.

That money was then used to sign Jesse Crain to a one-year deal.

You're welcome, Astros fans.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Years

Oakland got two seasons out of Lowrie.

Houston has gotten six seasons so far from its three players. They will have Chris Carter and Brad Peacock for an additional three seasons each, plus another six seasons of Max Stassi. Add in the three more years of Lowrie they just got and the Astros end up with 21 seasons of control after giving up two seasons of Lowrie.

That's a pretty good tradeoff.

The Production

All years of service are not created equally, however. Some players do more with their time than others. How did Lowrie perform in Oakland?

Well, the 30-year-old played 290 games over two seasons with Oakland. He totaled 21 home runs and 5.3 fWAR in that time. His wRC+ in Oakland was 108 and his wOBA was .324.

Chris Carter over the past two seasons has totaled 66 home runs with 2.1 fWAR and a wRC+ of 118 in 1,153 plate appearances.

Brad Peacock pitched 215 innings in two seasons for Houston, posting a 4.90 ERA and a 4.98 FIP with 196 strikeouts and 107 walks. He also had a fWAR total of 0.2.

Max Stassi, in 10 games and 28 plate appearances, was worth 0.1 fWAR in two big-league seasons.

That means Houston got 2.4 fWAR out of its end while Oakland got twice that. Of course, the deal isn't complete until Houston loses control of those players. FanGraphs projections for 2015 suggest Lowrie will be worth 2.1 fWAR, that Stassi will be worth 0.0 fWAR, that Carter will be worth 1.4 fWAR and that Peacock will be worth 0.4 fWAr.

Including 2015 brings Houston's net fWAR to 6.3, eclipsing Lowrie's value to Oakland. Add in the next two seasons and Houston should win hands-down from a value perspective.

Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Intangibles

Two things nag at this analysis, though. First, we have the question of marginal wins. A team like Oakland, which got the playoffs both seasons, needed Lowrie more than Houston. His 3.4 fWAR in 2013 was integral to their division championship.

In 2012, Cliff Pennington was worth 1.0 fWAR for Oakland while Stephen Drew was worth 0.0 fWAR and Adam Rosales was worth 0.0. Eric Sogard also played at short for the A's and was worth -0.1 fWAR.

Adding Lowrie allowed Oakland to dramatically improve one area on its team and shift Sogard to second base. That netted Oakland 1.3 fWAR, which looks even better after factoring in Jemile Weeks' -0.5 fWAR at second in 2012.

So, by trading for Lowrie, Oakland improved its middle infield by 4.3 fWAR. With a team looking to get into the playoffs, that's a big swing.

Also, in 2013, the A's got 2.3 fWAR production out of DHs John Jaso and Seth Smith. Brandon Moss and Daric Barton also combined for 2.6 fWAR in that span at first base, meaning the A's equaled Carter's production at those two spots with other players.

In short, they didn't have a need for Carter or Peacock at the major league level, so they flipped him for a player that could improve an area of need. That's relevant to the discussion.

Also, Houston's shortstop situation the past two seasons has been dire as a result of the Lowrie trade. In 2013, four different players combined for -1.7 fWAR. None of the four had positive fWAR totals. It got better in 2014, with Marwin Gonzalez, Gregorio Petit and Jonathan Villar combining for 0.9 fWAR.

But, Houston obviously cost itself as a position of need with the trade. They could justify it by giving Jonathan Villar a shot, but he's been a disaster in his short playing stints.


The trade will ultimately favor Houston. The Astros got more value out of the deal, especially now that they've added Lowrie back via free agency.

Yet, it should be probably viewed as a win-win. Lowrie helped Oakland make the playoffs twice by improving a team weakness. Even though the values line up overall, the marginal value for Oakland was greater than what Houston received in the deal for the past two seasons.