The Oakland A's acquired IF Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros in exchange for relief prospect Brendan McCurry on Wednesday. Lowrie returns to the A's after one season in Houston. He played for Oakland in 2013 and 2014 before signing a free agent deal with Houston. Lowrie is signed for the next two seasons and has an option for 2018. This is the second time the A's have acquired Lowrie from Houston. Oakland acquired Lowrie from the Astros before the 2013 season in exchange for Chris Carter, Max Stassi and Brad Peacock. To make room for Lowrie on the 40-man roster, Oakland designated reliever Daniel Coulombe for assignment. The A's also announced that they released A.J. Griffin, who was designated for assignment earlier this week.
We ranked McCurry as the A's 26th-best prospect going into 2016. The 2014 22nd-round pick has been brilliant since turning pro, posting a 1.37 ERA in 91.2 innings and striking out 119. He recently pitched in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox. Solar Sox pitching coach Steve Connelly had this to say about McCurry in a recent interview: "He struggled early on [in the AFL]. He came in and he went to his breaking stuff too much. It’s fun to watch [his breaking ball] because it is so slow and it is so funky. It really makes guys uncomfortable. But what makes it so good is his ability to throw 92-93. He has that sidearm fastball that runs in on guys and runs away from lefties. He has a four-seam that has a great angle to the plate and it’s down. Then all of a sudden he throws a 60-mile-per-hour curveball with the same arm action and it just fools hitters. It completely messes up their timing. They get pretzeled in the box trying to swing at it.
But if he comes in and he just shows [the breaking ball] over and over again and doesn’t show the fastball, he is going to get hit. It took me reminding him of that. He would readily admit that he needs to be reminded about that all of the time because he has such success with swing-and-miss off of his breaking ball that he sometimes forgets to use the fastball to get to that."
Oakland now has a crowded infield with Lowrie, Brett Lawrie, Danny Valencia, Eric Sogard and Tyler Ladendorf all under team control for next season. The A's figure to move one or two of them. They may still continue to tweak their infield. Lowrie, Semien, Ladendorf and Sogard can all play shortstop but only Ladendorf is a natural shortstop and he has only a handful of big league at-bats to his resume.