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It didn’t take long for the A’s to be linked to their first free agent rumor of the offseason.
Oakland is inquiring on shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew as potential replacements for free agent Jed Lowrie, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Monday as Major League Baseball’s general managers’ meetings began in Phoenix.
There’s no guarantee that Lowrie doesn’t re-sign with the A’s. But given that he stands out in what’s considered a weak crop of free agent middle infielders, Lowrie could be lured away from Oakland with a lucrative multi-year offer from another club.
Finding a starting shortstop is priority No. 1 for the A’s because there’s no in-house replacement ready to fill Lowrie’s shoes should he depart.
Cabrera, who turns 29 on Thursday, and the 31-year-old Drew are considered two of the top shortstops on the open market along with Lowrie. The A’s have history with Drew and his agent, Scott Boras. They acquired the left-handed hitter from Arizona in August 2012, and Drew hit .250 over 39 games as the A’s locked down their first postseason berth since 2006 that season. He became a free agent that winter and signed a one-year $9.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.
Drew is coming off a terrible offensive season in 2014, as he hit just .162 with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 85 games split between Boston and the New York Yankees. But he’s one of the better defensive shortstops on the open market.
Conversely, Cabrera’s bat is his strongpoint. The two-time All-Star enjoyed his finest season in 2011 with Cleveland, when he hit .273 with 25 homers and 92 RBI in winning a Silver Slugger award. His offense has been on the decline since then, but he’s delivered at least 14 homers with 60-plus RBI in each of the last four seasons, and his age would suggest there’s still some production left in that bat.
Cabrera’s defense is not particularly strong at shortstop, and he played second base after a trade deadline deal sent him from Cleveland to Washington last season. It stands to reason the A’s might also consider him an option at second should they bring him into the fold.