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All Of My Irrational Confidence Has Been Restored: The White Sox Acquire Todd Frazier

 

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Remember last week when I said the acquisition of Brett Lawrie didn’t put the Sox over the top? That would have reigned true had he been the opening day starter at 3B. Well guess what? He’s not going to start 2016 at 3b. Todd fucking Frazier is, which shifts Lawrie over to 2b.

 

In 2015, there were two lone bright spots in the White Sox lineup – Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton. Across the diamond, they had below replacement level players starting every day in RF, 3b, SS, and 2b. Unironically, they were one of the worst offensive teams in the league last year.

 

What a difference a few weeks makes though, huh? Like I said when the Sox acquired Lawrie last week, Frazier doesn’t have to light the world on fire to be an extreme improvement over the incumbent options. An infield that consists of a Gillaspie/Beckham/Olt combo at 3rd, Ramirez at SS and Carlos Sanchez at 2b isn’t going to contribute to many wins at all. I don’t have to pull up any standard or advanced stats for anyone on earth to realize that.

 

But now all of a sudden the White Sox have a nice little infield across the board, at least on paper. Frazier was worth 4.4 fWAR in 2015 and provides above average defense, while Lawrie, as discussed, has the *potential* to provide 20+ home runs and ++ defense at 2b. With Jose Abreu manning first, this can and should be a good offensive infield next season. Saladino will move to SS, provide his ++ defense while in the 9 hole, steal bases and scrap away to a whatever mediocre offensive slash line everyone expects him to put together and guess what? That’s totally cool now. He doesn’t need to be great offensively. And who knows, maybe prized SS prospect Tim Anderson lights the world on fire in Charlotte and is ready to be called up come June or so.

 

In the Lawrie deal the Sox didn’t mortgage any part of their future. Neither arm they traded was going to make a significant impact in Chicago. That isn’t the case with Frazier’s acquisition, however. The rumor mill claimed the Reds were looking for Tim Anderson in exchange for Frazier and the Sox didn’t want to pay that price. Carson Fulmer was also mentioned as a return, and the Sox weren’t willing to part with him either. The great part about this deal is it didn’t cost the Sox either, not to mention Quintana (who Reds fans thought would be a fair return, lol) or Erik Johnson. Instead it cost them Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson and Micah Johnson, three players who are all presumed to be big league ready or very close.

 

 

WITH THAT SAID – Montas is might be destined to be a reliever/closer (he sits upper 90s), Johnson is oft- injured and extremely raw defensively, and the Sox may have very well sold high with Thompson after his surprisingly great play at the end of 2015. Long story short, though each of these players may someday turn out to be good pros, they weren’t going to turn the Sox from pretenders into contenders next year, even though I hope they light it up for Los Angeles. So, though their farm took a hit, it wasn’t a huge one, as they still have their best two prospects (Anderson and Fulmer) in hand they haven’t dealt Quintana or other (good) major league pieces, and own 3 top 50 picks in 2016. Call me a homer all you want, but Hahn worked pretty good magic with these last few moves.

 

A few more bullet points:

 

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*Frazier is slated to make about $8MM next season, and is in eligible for arbitration one more time heading into 2017. For the type of production he’s amassed, he’s cheap. That said, he’s heading into his age 30 season and will be in line for a huge pay day in two years.

*Frazier doesn’t walk much. Just one time I want a player on the Sox who draws walks on walks on walks. He had a .255/.309/.498 slash line in ’15 with an .806OPS. Not great, but with his 30+ home run potential Sox fans will take those numbers in a heartbeat for all the reasons previously discussed.

*The Sox infield looks to be set, now they move onto the OF. Eaton and Melky (probably) aren’t going anywhere but there’s still a black hole in RF. The rumor mill is still a swirlin’, and the Sox have been linked to both Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes as potential signings. Upton is attached to a pick but

Yo isn’t and Yo will be the cheaper of the two. No idea what kinda money they’re looking to spend at this point, but if the Sox land Either of these two, there would be no excuse to not contend for a division title whatsoever. Zero.

 

*PROJECTED 2016 LINEUP*

1. Eaton CF

2. Melky LF

3. Abreu 1B

4. Frazier 3B

5. Cespedes/Upton RF (one can dream)

6. Laroche DH (gag)

7. Avila/ Navarro C

8. Lawrie 2B

9. Saladino SS

 

That lineup is LIGHT YEARS better than it was two weeks ago. If Hahn can talk Reinsdorf into ponying up the dough for either Upton or Cespedes, it’d be Soxtober 2016. That’s a promise from me to you.

 

 

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