I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this blog with the two most important parts of this deal: Lawrie’s dog is a smokeshow German Shepherds are the best looking dogs there are, that’s just a fact
Now onto the trade itself:
Now, following the dumpster fire that was the 2015 season I have never been more pessimistic about the future of the White Sox. This deal does not launch them into contention for a 2016 playoff spot, not by a long shot. But Lawrie immediately upgrades either 3B or 2B, two positions that absolutely brutalized the White Sox offense in 2015.
I know a lot of people are gonna give me shit for really liking this deal, but there really isn’t much reason to not like it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t inherent risks in this acquisition, but I will detail the reasons this is a great low risk, relatively high reward move made by Rick Hahn. Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of this deal:
First and foremost, Lawrie is an INSANE competitor. He plays balls to the wall every single play of every single game. From what I gather, he’s great in the clubhouse but opposing teams HATE playing against him. He scraps, he doesn’t take shit, he gets in the opposition’s head and hates fucking losing. This kind of attitude will resonate with a largely blue collar fan base and hopefully rub off on teammates as well. You can’t put a statistic on this type of value, but the value is very apparent. He’s got TWTW, and you can never have too much TWTW. Hawk just came himself to the moon.
He’s young and he’s cheap
Lawrie is only 25. Though he hasn’t fully tapped into the potential that warranted him being selected 16th overall by the Brewers in the 2008 draft, he has great tools across the board. He has 20+ HR potential, a plus hit tool and has shown average to plus speed. The only problem is all of this potential hasn’t equated to success yet. Even though 2015 was Tyler Saladino’s rookie year and Lawrie has been in the league for 4 years, Lawrie is actually the younger of the two. He’ll be 26 on opening day in 2016.
The Sox were looking for a low cost player with multiple years of team control attached to him, and Lawrie checks both of those boxes. He won’t be a free agent until after the 2017 season, and the Sox didn’t mortgage hardly anything to acquire him, either. Neither arm sacrificed in this deal cracked the top 10 on the Future Sox prospect list, and neither of them were expected to contribute in Chicago any time soon, if ever.
With how hard Lawrie plays, he hasn’t really translated all of his grit into success as a player yet. His career slash line is .263/.316/.420. Baseball reference shows he’s averaged 2.6 wins above replacement, in his 4 full seasons in The Show, with a 1.9WAR season in 2015. All of those numbers are fine, just not the great that was expected out of him when he was drafted.
Until 2015, Lawrie rocked a well above average glove at both 3B and 2B. Lawrie posted dWAR numbers of 5.5, 6.3 and 5.0 in 2012-2014, but fell face first into a -12.2 dWAR 2015 season. Assuming 2015 was an outlier, he’ll be fine defensively moving forward. One major problem I have with him is doesn’t draw walks. Once, just once, I want a Sox player to draw walks on walks on walks. They don’t have players like this, other than Eaton. He also saw an increase in his K rate in 2015 as well. THAT SAID – here’s the combined offensive production of white sox main 3B last year, Connor Gillaspie, Tyler Saladino and Mike Olt:
110H/488AB, .225/.282, 10 HRs, 39RBIS. Good for -.2 bWAR combined. This is absolutely pathetic production out of a position that is expected to help carry an offense. So, if Lawrie stays healthy and just performs to his career mean, his presence offers a SIGNIFICANT improvement over the incumbent options.
That said, he’s oft-injured, which is no bueno. 2015 was the first season he was fully healthy, appearing in 149 games. After that, the most games he played in was 125 in 2012. Health has definitely impeded his production and advancement as a player throughout the start of his career.
Even though Lawrie was healthy in 2015, he saw a few dips from his career means at the plate. While in Toronto, he was either A. really young or B. really injured, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a big reason for his dip in production had something to do with going from hitting in this
Oakland is just a SEA of foul ground. A true pitcher’s paradise. Foul balls there that would land 10 rows into the stands in most stadiums are routine popouts in Oakland. But now he’s playing here:
Hitter’s heaven! Not saying he’s going to light up the world offensively, but if he’s healthy, playing in 70+ games at the Cell will definitely net a spike in offensive production. How great that spike will be remains to be seen.
As I said, this move doesn’t launch the Sox into immediate contention, not by any means. Hahn bought low with Lawrie, gambling on all of these tools clicking and turning into production in the next 2+ years. It is a nice piece that makes the team better, yes. Rumors are a swirl about the Sox and Reds having ongoing dialogue about a move for Todd Frazier, which would slide Lawrie to 2b, but apparently the Reds are demanding Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer in return, and that was met with a hard “no” from Hahn. I wouldn’t touch that trade with a 10 foot poll if I were Hahn either. I’d maybe make this deal if it was just Anderson for Frazier straight up. I don’t trust the Sox development of hitters, but people smarter than me have said the Sox would be getting robbed in this instance as well. So, I guess not.
Regardless, they still need another bat. No idea where that bat will come from or in what form, but if they want to contend in 2016 it’s a necessity. Hopefully Hahn has something else up his sleeve.