The White Sox have indicated a change in player acquisition philosophy this off season. They have publicly said they plan to move away from “stop-gap” fixes and focus on acquiring longer-term controllable players for the 2017 season and beyond. Many within the industry and who are familiar with the club are confident that this shift indicates the White Sox willingness to begin a full roster re-build. This post is the final in a White Sox “Deal or No Deal” series, where we are looking at some potential trade options for a re-build scenario.
Todd Frazier was traded to the White Sox in December of 2015 after an impressive 2015 season. In 2015 he hit 35 HR and had 89 RBI, while batting .255 with a .309 OBP, and an OBP plus SLG (OPS) of .806. However, in the first 3 months of 2015, Frazier hit .287 with a .351 OBP and an OPS over .900, and hit 25 of his 35 HR. These numbers clearly show that the majority of Frazier’s 2015 production came in the first half; his 2nd half numbers were much less impressive. Unfortunately, Frazier’s 2016 numbers were more consistent with his 2015 second half production, although he did impress with his power numbers and consistently hit the ball out of the park in 2016. Frazier’s 2016 saw him finish with a career high of 40 HR and 89 RBI, but it also netted him a career low .225 batting average and a career high in strikeouts with 163. His strikeout rate was nearly 5% higher than in 2015. His OBP remained nearly the same, due to an increase in walks in 2016. Especially disappointing for 2016 was Frazier’s work with runners in scoring position (RISP). Frazier hit .169 (just 24 hits in 175 plate appearances!) with an OPS of .584 with RISP in 2016. This performance was absolutely atrocious, but his career splits show that he trends lower with RISP compared to bases empty, so maybe we shouldn’t be so terribly surprised. But fear not, there is reason for hope. Frazier ended the season with a fantastic September, inconveniently after the Sox season was dead and buried. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was a career low of .236 (for reference, in 2015 his BABIP was .271). While I don’t typically like to consider BABIP in a vacuum without evaluating all contributing factors, I think this, coupled with the fact that he is a free agent in 2017, provides hope for a 2017 rebound for Frazier. Frazier’s 2016 efforts equate to a 3.4 bWAR. He was steady defensively at 3B and added value on the basepaths as well, sneakily stealing 15 bases. Even if his average does not rebound, he will be a solid option for teams looking for an upgrade at 3B for 2017.
“The Todd Father”, as Frazier has been affectionately called during his time with the White Sox — as an homage to Head Groundskeeper and resident miracle worker “The Sod Father” Roger Bossard, and because as a society we just CANNOT STOP using puns — is only under team control for 1 more season. On an unrelated note, if anyone starts to call the White Sox off season something like “Re-build-GATE” or “Re-build-GAZI”, I will become very frustrated. Back to Flavor Fraz though: Frazier made $8.25 MM in 2016 and is due for a raise in 2017 through salary arbitration. MLBTradeRumors.com estimates that Frazier will earn $13.5 MM in 2017 through arbitration. This is a pretty fair market value considering recent comparisons, and for a 1 year rental his 2017 salary will not be detrimental to any team looking to acquire him. His power numbers have a chance to impact a club greatly, especially if he can hit lower in a lineup and not be relied upon as a main source of lineup production. So, what does Rick Hahn ask for if he sells Frazier to the highest bidder? Let’s take a look at some options.
Option #1: Los Angeles Angels
Who the White Sox may ask for:
OF Jahmai Jones – Angels #2 prospect, 2015 2nd round draft pick.
C Taylor Ward – Angels #3 prospect, 2013 7th round draft pick.
P Alex Meyer – Angels #11 prospect, 2011 1st round draft pick (WSH).
The Angels have been trying unsuccessfully to build a winner around 2014 and 2016 MVP Mike Trout for some time now. They benefitted from a nice performance at 3B from Yunel Escobar in 2016, but in the event of a Frazier trade they could slide Escobar to second base to take over for near replacement-level Johnny Giovatella to improve their lineup. GM Billy Eppler has made some creative trades since taking over the Angels and could look to get creative again this offseason.
The Angels farm system lacks depth, but there are a couple pieces that could intrigue the White Sox. Jahmai Jones is quite an athlete and is a prized prospect in the Angels system. He is explosive, speedy, and is developing into a good outfielder. He hits line drives and could be a nice everyday CF, but at 19 years of age is a long way from the big leagues. Taylor Ward took a step back offensively in 2016, but still has a chance to be an everyday MLB catcher. He should get a call-up to AA next year. The wild card in this group is Alex Meyer. Meyer was traded to the Angels at the deadline in 2016. He still has a big arm, but struggles with his command. He has a plus plus fastball, a plus slider, and a good changeup — enough to be a decent starter with upside or an excellent back end reliever. He just hasn’t put it all together yet at the big league level.
Deal or No Deal: While I think Frazier would be a good fit for the Angels, the asking price is probably a little more than the Angels would like to trade for a one year rental. No Deal.
Option #2: Boston Red Sox
Who the White Sox may ask for:
SP Brian Johnson – Red Sox #7 prospect, 2012 1st round draft pick.
SP Trey Ball – Red Sox #14 prospect, 2013 1st round draft pick.
3B Bobby Dalbec – Red Sox #20 prospect, 2016 4th round draft pick.
The Red Sox are looking to replace retired DH David Ortiz. Acquiring Frazier would allow them to move Travis Shaw to 1B and move Hanley Ramirez to full-time DH. As was discussed while examining potential Chris Sale trades, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski is not afraid to make a big trade.
Brian Johnson made one pretty atrocious start with the Red Sox in 2015 and spent most of 2016 at AAA Pawtucket where he posted a 4.09 ERA in 15 starts. He is a lefty and with some adjustments he has potential to be a good back end of the rotation starter. Trey Ball is another lefty in the Red Sox system. He spent 2016 as a repeat at A+ Salem where he continued to walk a lot of hitters. He has potentially 3 solid pitches, is still adding to his frame, and could turn into a good mid-rotation starter. Bobby Dalbec, who we also discussed regarding potential Chris Sale trades, has a good deal of upside with the bat. He is a strong guy with good bat speed, but will need to strike a balance of contact and power to hit in the big leagues.
Deal or No Deal: I don’t think Boston will be willing to offer enough, as a stand-alone deal, to acquire Frazier. It doesn’t seem like quite the right fit. However, if there is a possibility that Frazier could be packaged with Sale or Quintana in potential deal, there might be a deal to be made. But for now, No Deal.
Option #3: San Francisco Giants
Who the White Sox may ask for:
SP Joan Gregorio – Giants #7 prospect, 2012 international signing.
OF Steven Duggar – Giants #10 prospect, 2015 6th round draft pick.
P Ian Gardeck – Giants #28 prospect, 2012 16th round draft pick.
The Giants do not typically favor low average, high power, high strikeout type hitters. However, when they traded Matt Duffy to the Rays for Matt Moore, they lost their everyday 3B and handed the reins to *gulp* Conor Gillaspie. Conor did just fine, and had an outstanding offensive postseason, but Todd Frazier would be a very nice upgrade at 3rd for the Giants. This would allow Gillaspie to be used as a part time player and pinch hitter in 2017.
Joan Gregorio has a plus fastball and a plus slider. He is very tall, which gives him a nice advantage over hitters. He has some command issues to sort through and got hit around a bit in 21 starts at AAA Sacramento. He will likely start the season at Sacramento, but could make his MLB debut in 2017. Steven Duggar is another very speedy outfielder. He had a nice season at AA and will likely start 2017 there as well. Ian Gardeck missed the entire 2016 season and is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Before surgery he was a very hard thrower with a nice fastball/slider combination out of the bullpen.
Deal or No Deal: I think there’s lots of common ground here for a deal. The Giants system is pretty deep and they can afford to trade some of their pitching depth. I think the Giants get bold and make a move that’s a little out of character for them. Deal.
This concludes our Deal or No Deal: White Sox Edition series. Certainly other White Sox players not explicitly discussed such as Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, David Roberson, Melky Cabrera, and Nate Jones may be highly sought after players as well in the event of a complete roster re-build. For their potential trade values, I’ll leave the speculation to you. The off season hits its climax this week at the 2017 Winter Meetings and I’ll be excitedly waiting to cover any big White Sox moves that may potentially be made. -DV
Which deal do you like? Do you think there’s a different team who will make a play for Frazier? What other trades do you want to see? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo: Keith Allison