Frazier brings power bat, and perhaps stability
White Sox hoping for consistency at third base
CHICAGO -- When the White Sox acquired Brett Lawrie from the A's during last week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., general manager Rick Hahn was asked if he had found the team's third baseman.
Hahn quickly and confidently replied that, as of Dec. 9, Lawrie had that job.
Lawrie's tenure at the hot corner lasted exactly one week.
With the addition of Todd Frazier from the Reds in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers, the White Sox hope they have found their third baseman of the present and possibly the future. Lawrie's versatility allows for a smooth transition to second, while Frazier's presence gives Hahn a better feeling about the offense overall.
"[Better] than yesterday? I certainly feel a lot better," said Hahn during a Wednesday conference call to announce the Frazier deal, which sent right-hander Frankie Montas, outfielder Trayce Thompson and second baseman Micah Johnson to the Dodgers. "You've got a middle-of-the-order presence, obviously a power hitter with extra-base ability as well, and someone to help solidify the middle and make it a little bit tougher to come through.
"We also feel in the last few weeks that we've upgraded catcher and second with [Dioner] Navarro and [Alex] Avila and Lawrie. So that's conceivably a third of the lineup where we've made progress offensively. We certainly feel better than we did at the end of the season."
The soon-to-be 30-year-old Frazier brings myriad skills to Chicago's South Side. He's known for a power bat, winning the All-Star Home Run Derby last season and hitting a career-high 35 homers in '15 to follow up 29 in 2014. But he also is a solid athlete, with 33 stolen bases over the last two seasons, not to mention a '15 Gold Glove finalist for National League third basemen.
Much like Lawrie, the right-handed-hitting Frazier has the ability to play first and the outfield, with some reports linking the Royals' interest in him as a left fielder. He brings with him a sterling clubhouse reputation, which is another plus, but ultimately Hahn and Frazier know he'll be judged by his on-field results.
"I want to be a team player, like always. I want us to win, man," said Frazier. "If that takes everybody coming together or me being a leader, whatever it takes, I'm fine with it. I know these guys want to win, too. They're hungry."
Frazier hit just .220 with 10 homers in the second half of the season, pointing to fatigue and the fact that with the Reds out of contention, he was basically playing for his family and his city as motivation. He understands there will be necessary adjustments moving full-time from the NL to the American League, but the White Sox are confident Frazier will succeed where countless others have not since Joe Crede left his third-base post after the '08 season.
"This move helped us both offensively and defensively at a difficult position to fill," Hahn said.
"I've got to get acclimated with some people, and I hope they like me because I'm sure going in there liking everybody," Frazier said. "I can't wait."