What You Need To Know About The Todd Frazier Trade


The White Sox have struck again. A week ago they traded for Brett Lawrie, with that trade seemingly taking two days to complete after initial reports surfaced it was going down.

This latest trade happened much more quickly, and came from no where. Jeff Passan first reported the Sox were close to a deal with the Dodgers that involved Frankie Montas. The minds of Sox fans everywhere were sent into a tizzy with the possibilities.

Then, out of clouds came Todd Frazier and the Cincinnati Reds. Turns out it was a three-team deal, with the White Sox getting the third baseman they wanted, but giving up Montas, Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson in the process.

So what do we need to know about this deal?

WHAT ARE WE GETTING IN TODD FRAZIER?

A huge upgrade at third base. Frazier isn't the centerpiece of any lineup, as his OBP isn't anything to write home about, but he brings actual power to the lineup, and a solid glove to third base. The addition of Frazier also allows the White Sox to move Brett Lawrie to second base, which means they've significantly upgraded two holes on the infield offensively in the last week.

In the last four seasons, Frazier has hit 102 home runs, including 35 last year when he also won the Home Run Derby during the All Star break. Those 102 home runs are 36 more than the procession of players the White Sox trotted out to third base in that same time span.

Simply put, barring an epic collapse on Frazier's part -- and we can't rule that out with any White Sox acquisition, now can we? -- he's the best third baseman the team has had since Joe Crede.

And speaking of Joe Crede, let's check out the players Frazier is most similar to through his age 29 season.

But with a better back!

HOW GOOD IS HIS DEFENSE?

Based on metrics, he's not as good as Tyler Saladino was at third base last year. Saladino, in only 477.2 innings at third last season, was worth 12 defensive runs saved. He's very good there. Frazier, on the other hand, was worth 6 defensive runs saved in 1,371 innings, but that's not just one season. Over the course of the last four seasons he's saved 21 runs.

Comparing him with the rest of MLB third baseman who played at least 900 innings at the position last year, Frazier ranked seventh overall in defensive runs saved, higher than guys like Mike Moustakas, and Evan Longoria. So he's good there. He's not Saladino good, but the difference in offensive production will cancel that out.

WHAT ABOUT THE PLAYERS WE GAVE UP?

Listen, I know you hear that the White Sox gave up Trayce Thompson, and there's a tingle of sadness that shoots down your spine. I get it, I felt the same way. But there are a couple of ways to look at this.

You could say that the Sox just gave up three of their top prospects for a guy with two years of control left and wring your hands. You wouldn't be wrong, because that's what they did, it's just that these things are relative.

Three of the White Sox top prospects wouldn't be the same thing as the Cubs giving up three of their top prospects right now.

Let's break down what the Sox are really giving up here.

Frankie Montas could be a starter. He's more likely going to be a relief pitcher, and possibly a very effective one. The kind that one day works the 8th or 9th inning with ease. Considering the Dodgers tried to get Aroldis Chapman a few weeks ago, I'm guessing their plans for Montas lie in the bullpen.

Micah Johnson is a man without a country, and his passport might be expired too. What I'm saying is, he has no position on the field yet, and his bat hasn't really panned out. Plus, with the emergence of Carlos Sanchez last year, and the addition of Lawrie, Johnson had no home on the White Sox anyway. So, yes, he was in the trade, but he wasn't going to be doing much for the White Sox in 2016 anyway.

Then there's Trayce. Wonderful, amazing Trayce, how sweet the sound. He came up for 44 games last season and was amazing, slashing .295/.363/.533 with five dingers and a lot of excellent defense. Those 44 games had some Sox fans ready to just hand him a starting job in 2016 after jettisoning either Avisail Garcia or Melky Cabrera.

I wasn't one of them.

I like Trayce, and he could certainly develop into a good player. He has the ability, and at worst he's an excellent fourth outfielder with fantastic defense. Those have value. It's also entirely possible, however, that the White Sox are selling high on him.

Trayce will be 25 next season, and he's never been a top prospect on a national level. In his seven minor league seasons he had a line of .241/.319/.429, and he struck out a lot.

Yes, maybe all of that was fixed last year, or maybe Trayce went on a run he'll never quite duplicate again.

I think I know what the more likely scenario is.

So, at the end, the White Sox did give up three pieces for Frazier, but they gave up neither Tim Anderson -- who the Reds really wanted -- or Carson Fulmer to get him. If I'd have told you a month ago the Sox could get Todd Frazier without giving up either of those players, you'd have probably signed up for it.

SO IS AVISAIL GARCIA OUR STARTING RIGHT FIELDER AGAIN?

I wouldn't count on it. It's certainly possible, but I don't think the White Sox are done this winter. All the moves they've made so far have that distinct "all-in" feel to them, and I believe they'll be looking to add an outfielder before it's all said and done.

Now, this outfielder might not be Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton. It could just as easily be Dexter Fowler, or Alex Gordon. Or maybe the Sox use those top two prospects they kept to make a move for another outfielder like Carlos Gonzalez.

WHAT ABOUT SHORTSTOP?

I think it's safe to say that with the acquisitions of Lawrie and Frazier the Sox plan to let Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez handle short. Which is fine, so long as they get another outfielder.

SO YOU LIKE THE TRADE THEN?

I do.

I wouldn't give it an A+, but as I said, at the end of the day Rick Hahn and the White Sox overwhelmingly upgraded a position without giving up one of their top two prospects. It's hard to be too upset about it.

Prospects are fun to have, and certainly hold value, but as far as I'm concerned, watching a capable team play 162 games has always been more fun than dreaming of prospects.

Comments

  1. Very good breakdown here. I like Trayce a lot but I like your logic and objectively, you're right. He probably isn't as good as we saw last year. Frazier and Lawrie are sure fire upgrades in the infield and Carlos/Saladino can most likely do what Alexei did last year.

    Let's hope they get some help in RF and make a run!

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  2. As long as Trayce Thompson is not as good as he looked for a quarter of a season last year, it should be a good if not great trade for the Pale Hose. I did like Thompson's long strides and wingspan--he covered a lot of ground in the outfield and also had a strong arm.

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  3. I am not ready to give up on Avisail Garcia just yet. I like his desire to play and the fact he is always hustling to beat out an infield ground ball, no matter the score. I am all for getting a high quality .285+ OF. Then, I'd put Avisail at DH. I'd prefer them to trade Melky

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  4. Wow, becoming a regular. Great analysis. Fans over-rate their own. Grew up in Chicago, now in NJ, can tell you, no one does this more than NYC. Totally oversold on their teams. That said, they would never tolerate mediocrity Chicago fans endure, seemingly without comment.

    White Sox gave up nothing. Johnson given chance, dropped it. Thompson not highly ranked even on White Sox talent ladder. Fun addition last year, yes, against backdrop of absolute failure. Brief ray of sun against dark and stormy sky. Frankie Muniz - young pitchers always intriguing, but does not appear at level of Mets pitching prospects. And Tommy John surgery around the corner for every young pitcher. So, a power hitter at third who can field. Lawrie a solid second baseman. Need another outfielder to "push" current regulars for their jobs. Catching platoon, but would not let Navarro into camp unless drops 20 pounds. Sox pitching is over-rated, so I'd sign any arm with a pulse.

    One question - seriously - to you and your astute readers. Why has Cespedes played for five teams in five years? Brilliant in spurts for Mets - they won pennant because of him. But then disappears and makes fielding, running, batting gaffes you would see in Little League. Anyone have the "scoop" on him? Apparently market for him has dropped dramatically this offseason. NY media a-buzz on the topic. Love your column!

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    Replies
    1. Re. Cespedes, Oakland signed him originally, but I don't think Billy Beane ever intended to keep him for all four years. That's just not how Oakland works. He was signed with the sole intent of being traded for controllable players down the line. Then he was traded to Boston for a playoff push, but the Red Sox had a ton of young outfield prospects coming down the pipe, and they thought they could make Hanley Ramirez a left fielder.

      Needless to say, there's a reason Boston fired Ben Cherington and hired Dave Dombrowski.

      So he was sent to Detroit, who shipped him to the Mets for the playoff push because he was going to be a free agent at the end of the season.

      So there's nothing wrong with Cespedes personally. Teams hoping to make a playoff push keep wanting him. Now he's just a free agent, and his market will pick up soon enough now that Heyward's off the market.

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