Levine: Todd Frazier's Status With White Sox? It's Complicated
By Bruce Levine--
CHICAGO (CBS) -- What's the best way to obtain a reliable third baseman who will hit you 35 home runs and drove in 95 runs? Call the Chicago White Sox.
With spring training just four weeks from starting in full bloom, numerous clubs could use a big bat that assures production, and White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier is on the trade market as the organization has started its rebuild in earnest.
Several factors are currently standing in the way of a Frazier trade. First off, a good deal for the White Sox would involve bringing back a high-profile prospect or two from a team in win-now mode. To date, Chicago hasn't received an offer to meet its desired price.
Second, new-age general managers often shy away from some of the areas that the 30-year-old Frazier is weak in -- notably his low on-base percentage (.302 in 2016) and his penchant for striking out (163 strikeouts last season).
The present free-agent market has diminished the value of Frazier's power numbers at the moment. Normally, someone who can play two positions well (third base and first base in Frazier's case) and boasts so much power would've been easily moved by this point on the offseason calendar, but the market is saturated with players similar to Frazier's offensive output.
Four players with power bats have effected the interest in Frazier. Coming off an injury-plagued season, outfielder Jose Bautista appears to have worked out a deal to return to the Blue Jays. When healthy, he's a 30-homer, 100-RBI machine.
Outfielder Mark Trumbo, designated hitter/first baseman Mike Napoli and first baseman/outfielder Chris Carter are also on the market as players with a big-power/high-strikeout profile. Each of them hit at least 34 home runs and struck out at least 170 times in 2016.
Trumbo is the reigning home run champion, with 47 blasts last season. He market remains unclear. Napoli was replaced in Cleveland when the Indians signed Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year deal. Carter was non-tendered by the Brewers this offseason after leading the National League with 41 homers in 2016.
All three sluggers have slowed Frazier's market. The good news for the White Sox is that each of those four players is looking for multi-year deals, and signing Napoli or Trumbo would require a team to give up a draft pick. Frazier has one year and $12 million left on his contract, so he'd be a great fit for an offense-needy team looking for a short-term fix. A team that surprises in the first several months of the 2017 season could also enter the sweepstakes for Frazier in the form of an in-season trade.
Carter may indeed sign a one-year deal, but his defensive struggles bring questions with him. Frazier is a plus defender, which will help his case. Frazier hit .225 with 40 homers, 98 RBIs and a .767 OPS last season. He hit just .171 with runners in scoring position.
The White Sox have no urgency right now to move Frazier other than to save some cash. He fit in well with the team last season, taking on a leadership role that no one else wanted or was ready to assume in 2016. At times, that was awkward for the affable Frazier in his first year in a new organization.
As it sits now, a long-term deal for Frazier seems quite unlikely as the White Sox embark on a rebuild. He'll be dealt in 2017. The questions remain to where, when and at what price.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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