White Sox acquire energetic Lawrie from A's
Versatile infielder expected to add offensive pop
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Shortly after the White Sox finalized the acquisition of Brett Lawrie, general manager Rick Hahn had a chance to talk with his new infielder.
"He was excited," said Hahn, speaking in his Winter Meetings suite at the Opryland Hotel late Wednesday night. "And he dropped the word 'beauty' on me, which is a true Canadian hockey term."
Lawrie's connection to British Columbia didn't fall on the list of reasons why the White Sox traded left-handed pitcher and 2015 fourth-round Draft pick Zack Erwin and right-hander J.B. Wendelken to the A's to acquire his services. But the hockey-like, run-through-a-wall attitude certainly stands as positive part of what the 25-year-old brings.
Hahn described Lawrie as high energy, high intensity and as a player who leaves it all out on the field. That energy has to be reined in at times, per Hahn, but the White Sox would rather have that issue than trying to coax a little extra life.
"We've seen that intensity on display in terms of both the way he attacks defensively and offensively, and sometimes it has got him into a little hot water and altercations with others," Hahn said. "But we don't see anything wrong with adding more guys to the club that have a little bit of extra fire and a little bit of edge to them."
"Obviously, getting traded, I'm excited," said Lawrie during a conference call. "I'm excited to be with a new group and see how things are done with the Chicago White Sox. Playing against them, and whatnot, I know that it's a great staff over there and a lot of talent."
Even at this relatively young age, Lawrie moves toward his sixth season with his third team. He produced a career-high 16 homers, 60 RBIs and 29 doubles for Oakland in 2015, hitting .260 with a .299 on-base percentage and 144 strikeouts over 562 at-bats. The 16th pick in the 2008 Draft played 109 games at third and 42 at second in 2015.
Adding the right-handed hitter fills the South Siders' top offseason need through a player with some upside, but also a player who will be a solid contributor if his numbers are commensurate with last season. Hahn admitted that Lawrie's defense at third dropped a bit in 2015, but he believes he's a more than capable defensive player at third or second.
And with Hahn's Hot Stove work not yet finished, Lawrie is ready for whatever is asked of him.
"Wherever helps the team, that's what I'm looking to do," Lawrie said. "So whether that's center field, left field, right field, catcher, whatever that might be.
"So whatever this team needs me to do, I am going to do the best of my abilities to go out there an compete and pick up the baseball to try and make an out and see what I can do to help the team win the game at the end of the day. That's what I'm out there to do."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Lawrie did not post eye-popping numbers with the A's last season, but one number -- 149 games played -- stands out as a reason for optimism. After multiple injury-affected seasons with the Blue Jays, the native Canadian finally proved that he can stay healthy for a full campaign. Now back with a team in possession of a hitter-friendly home park, Lawrie may be ready to post his first 20-homer campaign. Set to carry third-base and second-base eligibility in virtually all leagues, the 25-year-old warrants late-round attention in 2016 mixed-league drafts.
Lawrie's departure from Oakland could open up a regular role for Jed Lowrie at second base. If Lowrie draws most of his starts at the keystone, Danny Valencia -- who hit .290 with 18 homers across 345 at-bats last season -- could receive regular at-bats at third base. Like Lawrie, Valencia warrants attention in the final rounds of mixed-league drafts.