A's acquire Jed Lowrie from Astros for minor league reliever

Infielder Jed Lowrie is returning to Oakland after a one-year stay in Houston.

The Athletics acquired Lowrie from the Astros on Wednesday for minor league right-hander Brendan McCurry less than a year after Lowrie left Oakland to sign a three-year deal with Houston.

"Jed is a very good player," A's general manager David Forst said. "He was very good here, he had a good year in Houston. It was a good opportunity for us."

The 31-year-old Lowrie hit .222 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 69 games for Houston this year, starting 45 at third and 16 at shortstop. He was sidelined for more than three months by a torn ligament in his right thumb but Forst said he has no concerns about his health.

As a free agent last December, Lowrie agreed to a $23 million, three-year contract with the Astros that called for salaries of $8 million in 2015, $7.5 million in 2016 and $6.5 million in 2017. There is a $6 million club option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout.

This marks the second time Lowrie was part of a deal with these two teams, having been sent from Houston to Oakland before the 2013 season in a deal that sent slugger Chris Carter to the Astros.

Lowrie helped the A's make the playoffs in two straight seasons, batting .271 with 21 homers and 125 RBIs in 290 games. He was almost exclusively a shortstop during his time in Oakland but is also capable of starting at third base and second base and has even played a bit of first.

"We acquired Jed to play," Forst said. "Exactly where, we have some time to figure that out. He's too good an offensive player not to be in there somewhere."

Lowrie has expressed a desire to Forst and manager Bob Melvin to remain at one position. Whether that happens might depend on what other moves the A's make this offseason. Currently Marcus Semien is slotted at shortstop and Brett Lawrie is at third base.

"There's plenty of time for us to figure things out," Forst said. "He may end up getting to do that. The nice thing for us is he really can play all over the infield."

Lowrie has a .257 career average with 65 homers and 314 RBIs.

The 23-year-old McCurry was 3-3 with a 1.37 ERA and 29 saves this year with Class A Stockton and Double-A Midland, striking out 82 and walking 17 in 63 innings.

Houston also dealt outfielder L.J. Hoes to Baltimore for cash. The 25-year-old hit .295 with three homers and 53 RBIs in 99 games this year at Triple-A Fresno. He was dealt from the Orioles to the Astros in July 2013 as part of the trade that sent pitcher Bud Norris to Baltimore.

Hoes has a .237 average, four homers and 22 RBIs in 112 major league games during the past four seasons.

The A's also announced that they released right-hander A.J. Griffin, who had been designated for assignment last week. Lefty Daniel Coulombe was designated for assignment to make room for Lowrie on the roster.