The Oakland Athletics Have A Shortstop Problem
Through 39 games this season and 29 games last season, Elvis Andrus is batting a combined .185 over 227 at bats
When Marcus Semien signed with the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason after five years in green and gold, it was a given that there would at least be some drop off in production for the Oakland Athletics this season at the shortstop position.
Once the organization acquired Elvin Andrus from the Texas Rangers in return for slugging outfielder Khris Davis, it was expected that the veteran shortstop would be able to act as a stop-gap for the next season-plus while the organization searched for a long-term solution.
That solution might need a quicker resolution, as Andrus and backup shortstop Vimael Machín are not getting the job done through the first quarter of the regular season.
The duo of Andrus and Machín have combined for a .397 OPS (On Base Plus Slugging Percentage) which is currently dead last among all 30 teams in Major League Baseball.
Andrus, who is in his 13th major league season, is batting .177 with 0 home runs and six RBI. The 32-year-old has more strikeouts (25) than base hits (22) this season, with the shortstop also currently on pace to break his career-high for strikeouts in a season (101 in 2017).
Over 37 games, Andrus ranks 29th in the league in Defensive Runs Saves with -5 on the season, per RotoWire.
Getting Andrus a game or two off to clear his head likely will not do the lineup any favors though, as Machín is struggling to begin the season as well.
Machín, 27, is batting .050 with one hit over 22 plate appearances.
Oakland needs a solution to its shortstop issue, with the former All-Star Andrus batting well below his career-average of .272 and the backup option in Machín boasting struggles of his own to begin the season.
A band-aid-type of move could be on the way, with utility-man Chad Pinder expected back with the Major League roster this weekend in Minnesota. In his first rehab appearance on Monday night, Pinder was penciled into the lineup as the shortstop–a sign that a change could be on the way.
Over six seasons with the Athletics, Pinder has only logged 35 games at shortstop (24 starts) and holds a .949 fielding percentage with six errors over 224 innings.
While the organization will hope that one or all of Pinder, Andrus and Machín can provide some sort of production to the lineup, it’s likely that President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane and General Manger David Forst will be looking into the trade market as the July 30th trade deadline approaches.
One intriguing possibility is that of the A’s trading for Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who will hit free agency at the end of the season.
Story, 28, is one of the top shortstops in the league, as the two-time All-Star is in line for a big payday this offseason.
It is all but certain that Story will be moved by the Rockies this summer, with the organization already having sent MVP-candidate Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals this past offseason to begin the process of a full tear-down.
Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Oakland could be involved in discussions for the star shortstop as a rental, meaning that the defending American League West champions might not have to give up much to acquire Story.
The Athletics do not have many top prospects to give up in a big trade, but the Rockies will likely not receive a large haul for a player that will enter free agency at the end of the playoffs.
For example, Manny Machado was traded from Baltimore to the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2018 for the Dodgers’ number four prospect and other low-level prospects. Machado signed with San Diego following the 2018 season.
While Story might not be the solution to Oakland’s shortstop problem, the answer is out there. Could the answer be on the current roster? That remains to be seen.
But if one thing is certain, it’s this: the Athletics need to fill the void left behind by Marcus Semien sooner than later.