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White Sox: Could Brett Lawrie’s Time on South Side Be Over?

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Jul 19, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie (15) points to the crowd after hitting a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 19, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Brett Lawrie (15) points to the crowd after hitting a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox have the option to non-tender veteran player after an injury-plagued 2016. With Tyler Saladino putting together a solid season, does this make the native Canadian expendable?

The Chicago White Sox traded for Brett Lawrie last offseason in the hopes of solidifying its infield. Lawrie has battled injuries in the past that prevented him from playing a full season, but in 2015 he was able to finish his first season playing more than 145 games.

With Lawrie joining the Sox, he was looking to put his injury concerns behind him and contribute to a successful season on the South Side. Unfortunately for Lawrie, he wasn’t able to play 100 games as his season ended before August. Lawrie experienced a left hamstring injury on July 21 against the Tigers.

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Lawrie would later be placed on the 15-day disabled list with the hopes of eventually returning. After a brief rehab stint with Double-A Birmingham Barons, Lawrie returned to the disabled list after playing five games. Lawrie would not return to the Sox lineup as other injuries to his left knee and calf ultimately ended his season.

The native Canadian has dealt with injuries before, and has been known to be injury-prone. With a successful 2015 season with the Oakland Athletics, it appeared Lawrie was going to be able to stay healthy for a full season consistently. In 2015, Lawrie played in a career-high 149 games for the Athletics.

The most games Lawrie had played in a single season before 2015 was 125 in 2012 with the Blue Jays. While Lawrie’s season ended prematurely with the Sox in 2016, his absence gave way to the emergence of Tyler Saladino. The second-year player hit .282 in 93 games for the Sox this past season. Lawrie hit just .248 in 94 games for the Sox in 2016.

Saladino was primarily a utility player with the Sox in 2016 before Lawrie’s injury. However, he quickly became the starting second baseman when Lawrie was placed on the disabled list. For Saladino, the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. In his rookie season, he struggled to adapt to major league hitting.

This season, Saladino not only looked much better at the plate, but he delivered clutch hits for the Sox as well. With Saladino’s solid 2016, the Sox could very well start next season with him as the starting second baseman.

Lawrie will be up for arbitration in the offseason, and according to mlbtraderumors.com, he could command a salary of $5.1 million for 2017. If the Sox aren’t privy to spending this money for one season of Lawire, they could choose to non-tender him. This wouldn’t be surprising as the Sox are typically looking to save money where they can.

Saladino not only made Lawrie more expendable, but he’s proven to be more durable. An area of concern for the Sox would be Saladino not playing more than 95 games in a single season. Although Saladino had a good 2016, he still hasn’t had 500 at-bats in one season. If the Sox were to non-tender Lawrie, it could present a new risk for them in 2017.

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The Sox will certainly have a tough decision to make in the coming weeks. However, they could tender Lawrie for 2017 and hope he can stay healthy. If Lawrie isn’t tendered for next season, expect the Sox to move quickly to find a potential replacement for him in free agency.

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