The Chicago White Sox filled one of their needs for the offseason this past Tuesday with the signing of catcher Alex Avila. However, the team still has to sign or trade for someone to play second base, third base and right field.
With the recent acquisition via trade by the Oakland Athletics for utility infielder Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros, the Athletics could possibly be in the market to trade Brett Lawrie, who they acquired last offseason in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson. According to MLBtraderumors.com, the White Sox are among a number of teams that could be interested in trading for Lawrie as they are in desperate need of a player that can play second and third base.
Lawrie at 26 years old, could also fit a need that White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn expressed earlier this offseason in terms of his age and team control. The native Canadian is under team control until 2018 and could play either second or third base for the White Sox. However, Lawrie has played the majority of his games in the majors at third base.
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The major concern with trading for Lawrie is his health as he hasn’t played over 150 games during any of his five seasons in the big leagues. Lawrie made his major league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays on August 5, 2011. He was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 MLB Draft (16th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers. Lawrie played a career-high 149 games for the Athletics last season.
In 2014, Lawrie played in only 70 games for the Blue Jays due to injuries that included a fractured finger and oblique strain. Lawrie started the 2013 season on the disabled list due to a strained rib cage and didn’t make his season debut until April 16. Later that season, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list for a sprained ankle after sliding into second base during a game against the Atlanta Braves. Lawrie played in 107 games during that season for Toronto.
Obtaining Lawrie does present health risks, but it could also be beneficial for a team that didn’t have a third baseman with an OPS over .610 last season. Over 602 plate appearances for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie hit .260 with 16 home runs, 60 RBI and an OPS of .706. Lawrie did have a career-high in strikeouts with 144 and had 28 walks. The White Sox would certainly need for those strikeouts to decrease in 2016.
Defensively, Lawrie had a career-high 18 errors for Oakland and a .937 fielding percentage in 109 games played at third base. At second base, Lawrie started 40 games and committed six errors with a .972 fielding percentage. Over 44 games started at third base for the Blue Jays in 2014, Lawrie had a fielding percentage of .984 with two errors. During the 2013 season, Lawrie started 101 games at third base with 10 errors and a .963 fielding percentage.
Trading for Lawrie could require the White Sox to part with some of their pitching prospects as they don’t have many enticing position playing prospects outside of Tim Anderson in their farm system. The White Sox and Athletics aren’t strangers to trading as they were able to be trade partners last offseason when the White Sox traded four players for Jeff Samardzija and minor league pitcher Michael Ynoa.
With the third base market being relatively thin in free agency, a trade for Lawrie should be made by a team that’s looking to not only become competitive in 2016, but isn’t likely to spend much money this offseason.