TODD FRAZIER (THE CORE PIECE)
Apr 21, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier (21) hits a grand slam home run during the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
If the White Sox are serious about “maximizing” the roster in hopes of salvaging 2015 and enhancing their postseason odds in ’16 and ’17, then they need one more big bat that can rake along side Abreu.
There may not be a more tantalizing name out there than Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier.
According to John Fay from Cincinnati.com, Todd Frazier isn’t on the block.
"“But Jocketty was very specific about one thing Thursday: Todd Frazier is not going to be traded. No, I wouldn’t trade him,” he said. “I think all that talk is coming from the New York media.”"
Walt Jocketty is the GM of the Reds and this particular comment was in reference to all the chatter about the New York Mets looking to make a splash by bringing Frazier East.
However, I take all of these comments with a grain of salt because as White Sox fans have learned from Rick Hahn, along with their MBA’s, today’s general managers possess a minor in the art of poker.
I don’t think Frazier is necessarily “untouchable” because he has the type of contractual status that any return would be franchise shifting. The Reds are currently floundering in a tough NL Central that sports clubs like the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the up-start Chicago Cubs.
Those three teams are all positioned for perennial runs at contention and Cincinnati would be ill-advised if it believed it could share that window.
The organization is better off building for a few years down the road so that their contention window opens right as the Pirates’ presumably begins to fade.
Frazier, who won the Home Run Derby Monday night, is one way to ignite such a talent infusion, as Cincinnati’s farm system is only middle of the pack and has quite a few lottery tickets in it. I think Hahn could give them just what the doctor ordered, but here’s why Chicago should call in the first place.
Third base has been a dearth of a position for the White Sox ever since Joe Crede‘s departure. Matt Davidson was supposed to be the long-term answer at the position when he was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but his prospect status has since faded considerably.
While Conor Gillaspie had a solid ’14 for the White Sox at the hot corner, he has neither the glove nor the power profile to truly shine there. His 2015 line of .237/.276/.364 also leaves a lot to be desired. Considering the bust that was Jeff Keppinger, and Gordon Beckham‘s inability to hold down the spot, the White Sox have been pretty atrocious at plugging this hole.
Here’s where Frazier comes in. He’s a 29 year-old who is signed through 2016 for a cheap $12 million. He hits arbitration in 2017, and doesn’t even reach free agency until after the 2018 season.
So we’re talking about a guy in his prime with three years of team control beyond ’15. If that doesn’t fit into the White Sox’s supposed window, I don’t know what does.
Frazier wouldn’t be a rental and his .922 OPS could sandwich right between Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, serving as the final touch on Hahn’s championship caliber core.
Frazier really put himself onto the map last year with an all-star season when he combined power and average to the tune of a .273/.336/.459 line. The slugger even added 20 stolen bases to his 29 home runs to become one of the best third baseman in the game, as he was voted the NL All-Star team starting third baseman.
What’s unbelievable is that in ’15 Frazier has elevated his game to a whole other level. Once again an all-star, he’s hitting .284/.337/.585 with 25 home runs and a league leading 26 doubles. Those sound an awful lot like Jose Abreu’s first half numbers last season.
Plus, Frazier’s glove would undoubtedly shore up the defense on the left side of the infield so to say he’s valuable is an understatement.
Now if he is in fact being shopped under-the-radar, then Frazier is basically the Rolls Royce of the bat market, so the Reds will be expecting an absolute haul for him, one that would seemingly give them at least three players who profile as future MLB regulars.
Jul 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League third baseman Todd Frazier (21) of the Cincinnati Reds shakes hands with American League third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) of the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2015 Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All Star Game at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays acquired Josh Donaldson from Oakland over the offseason for a four player package of Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Franklin Barreto, and Sean Nolin. Most in the industry felt this was an underwhelming package for a player of Donaldson’s ilk and I think it’s safe to say the White Sox can’t get away with a package like this for Frazier, even though the two are similar players.
So are you ready to trade for Frazier? Take a deep breath and forget about how high you were on basically everyone in the system.
It starts with shortstop Tim Anderson. Now here’s a caveat: I love Tim Anderson, and if you remember I wrote an article awhile back about why ’15 would be his break out year. Well, the young shortstop hasn’t disappointed.
He was the MVP of the 2015 Southern League All-Star Game and has slashed a robust .300/.330/.399 while stealing 30 bases and flashing decent gap power.
The issue with Anderson is whether or not he can stick at shortstop. If he’s relegated to center field, his values diminishes quite a bit. Anderson is still very raw and while the 22 year-old is raking in AA, expecting him to do the same in the bigs as soon as 2016 is misguided and again we’re going off of William’s comments that the window is 2015, 2016, and 2017. Is Anderson really apart of that window?
While I think the White Sox will surely try to compete beyond that timeline, with young players like Rodon, Johnson, and Garcia set to hit their primes then, I think they realize the special opportunity they have in Sale and Abreu currently being in full stride.
What better way is there to build a championship team than around a Cy Young and MVP candidate. Unfortunately for Anderson, he’s not ready to join them now, Frazier is.
Let’s talk about who will play shortstop in 2016. If Alexei Ramirez can show that he is still even close to the All-Star Silver Slugger and Gold Glove finalist he was last year, then his $10 million team option looks extremely friendly.
If not, they can buy him out and give Tyler Saladino a chance at short. Now here me out. Saladino was recently called up to the big league club and it’s easy to see why. He has a strong glove, contact skills, and some speed.
Once a bright prospect, Saladino fell off for a couple years before returning to the scene with a strong 2014. It was cut short by Tommy John Surgery, but that is hardly career ending for a position player. He’s posted a serviceable .255 average in ’15 along with a .372 slugging percentage. He had a .173 ISO last season, which is definitely above average for a shortstop.
Seriously, I have little doubt that he could do worse than Ramirez’s current .224/.249/.292 line. Also, Saladino stole on 25 of his 27 attempts in Triple-A this season, and the White Sox could use that type of efficiency on the basepaths.
Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher Francelis Montas poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Next up: RHP Frank Montas. Acquired in the Peavy trade Montas was a MLB Future’s Game stand out this year, hitting over 100 MPH on the speed gun. His 2.47 ERA and 1.12 WHIP at Double-A Birmingham should do most of the talking.
While he has a plus fastball and slider, Montas could still find himself in the bullpen if he can’t develop a reliable third offering or hone his control. His 3.58 BB/9 shows that there is still a developmental gap between his current stature and ceiling as a front line arm.
With Sale, Quintana, Rodon, Carson Fulmer, and even a revived Erik Johnson in the fold, Montas becomes an enticing piece that the White Sox can actually part with.
At this point Jocketty is almost ready to type “deal” to Rick Hahn, but he needs to balance the risk of Anderson failing to stick at short and Montas turning into a bullpen arm before he deals a cornerstone player.
So third baseman prospect Trey Michalczewski finishes off the package and the Reds bank on the possibility of him developing enough plate discipline to become a special talent. MLBPipeline.com thinks as much:
"“A switch-hitter with a nice swing from both sides of the plate, Michalczewski could hit for power and average if he improves his pitch recognition and selectivity. He shows a willingness to use the entire field, and he has the bat speed and strength to hit 20 homers per season in his prime.”"
The Deal: 3B Todd Frazier for SS Tim Anderson, RHP Frank Montas, and 3B Trey Michalczewski
Organizational prospects rated by MLB.com as No. 1, No. 2, and No. 7 being dealt is a hard pill to swallow but a necessary one if the White Sox want to supply the pitching staff with run support in one swift blockbuster move.
Keep in mind that unlike Zobrist, Frazier wouldn’t be a rental and would be under contract for three seasons and sandwich his .922 OPS right between Abreu and Garcia, serving as the final touch on Hahn’s championship caliber core.
Next: San Francisco has a player who could help out