Analysis Editorials White Sox

Todd Frazier’s Struggles are Tanking his Trade Value, Hindering the White Sox Rebuild

Todd Frazier steps up to the plate to lead off our June series analyzing White Sox players’ trade values, which we will follow up on in late July as the trade deadline nears. Before Frazier pops out, I’ll get in as much as I can about his decreasing trade value.

Acquired in December of 2015 to bolster the juggernaut known as the 2016 Chicago White Sox, Frazier has mainly been a disappointment in his time on the south side. It’s true Rick Hahn gave up almost nothing to get him, as Frankie Montas, Micah Johnson, and Trayce Thompson are all struggling to stick on an MLB roster after they went to the Dodgers. Still, Frazier’s sub-par 2016 and his dismal 2017 are a big letdown to Hahn and Sox fans everywhere, who were excited to see the 2015 Home Run Derby winner on the south side.

In 2016, Frazier delivered on the home run expectation, smashing 40 long balls, but struggled to raise his batting average, and finished the year with a .225 mark in that category. This year, he’s only on pace for about 22 home runs, and is giving fans bad memories of Cody Asche with his .184 batting average. The power just hasn’t been there for him, as his slugging percentage lies at .368 for the 2017 campaign.

After last year, Frazier still had a decent amount of value. 40 home runs are a desired commodity for any team, and given his career trend, most expected Frazier to bat somewhere around .240 instead of the uglier .225 he had in 2016. When Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were traded on consecutive days this past December, many expected Hahn to keep dealing. During that quick flurry of trades, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers had expressed interest in trading for Frazier. Instead, the White Sox held on to Frazier and all their other assets, and now we’re seeing the consequences of it.

Whether a trade was close to happening is irrelevant now, but it’s worth pointing out that his value has tanked since the offseason. Now, what do the White Sox do with Todd Frazier? There’s no clear answer, and that’s a big issue for many different reasons.

It’s reasonable to hope that Frazier will rebound soon enough. His glory days in Cincinnati are gone, but he’s only 31 and with years of experience under his belt, a bounce-back to his 2016 form is quite possible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help the White Sox all that much. Unless he turns into April Avisail Garcia, his numbers can’t possibly improve enough by the deadline, only two months away, to significantly increase his trade value.

Win-now teams are looking for consistent quality in their deadline acquisitions, and Frazier’s year, one way or another, will either be low-quality or inconsistent. It’s simple: those teams usually fork away a hefty return so they can strengthen their playoff roster, and they want to be sure who they receive is going to provide that strength.  One example is the Cubs last year, who gave away the soon-to-be #2 prospect in all of baseball, Gleyber Torres, and much more for a half-season of Aroldis Chapman. If Chapman had been inconsistent prior to the deadline, there is no way Theo Epstein is giving up that much.

So, the best option for Rick Hahn is to sit around and hope Frazier gets better. If he forced a trade this year, he wouldn’t even get a top-100 prospect for the Toddfather. Over the offseason? Probably. But this year, no. Let’s say a deal was made with a team needing third base help/depth like the Boston Red Sox. All I see the White Sox getting in return is, at best, Boston’s fourth best prospect, third baseman Bobby Dalbec. Chances are you haven’t heard of him, and that shows you why Hahn is going to wait on trading Frazier.

We’ve established that trading Frazier is a poor option at this point. I guess we’ll have to keep him. A close look indicates that that option sucks as well. If you start Frazier at third base, you’re obstructing the paths of two intriguing young players. Matt Davidson is one, who has floundered lately but shows promise with his power. Also, don’t forget about Nicky Delmonico, who is batting .284 in Charlotte with 9 homers this year. During the rebuilding process, those two youngsters are the types of people you want to try out, as they have worked their way through the minors while demonstrating a good amount of potential.

However, you can’t give them a fair chance until Frazier is removed. Sure, you could sprinkle a few starts for those guys here or there, but they won’t feel comfortable until they have a string of games starting at third base. How about you just sit Frazier? Davidson and Delmonico could receive a sufficient amount of games and everything would be perfect! But not so fast.

This season, Todd Frazier is earning $12 million dollars. Last year, you paid him $8.25 million. For that amount of money, it’s illogical to sit him on the bench. After all, there is the nagging fear that he returns to form next year, but by that point he’s on another team because it wasn’t working out with the White Sox. So, sitting him isn’t a reliable option either.

In the end, waiting on Frazier, and hoping he improves, is the best choice. Yes, it’s a bad option, but it’s the best one Rick Hahn has. There is the possibility that he stays like this, and then you’ll just have to cut ties with him or get something small in return for him. A positive scenario would see Frazier bouncing back and batting .240 with 35 dingers, while he helps mentor the younger players. That outcome still has its drawbacks though.

If Frazier’s comeback occurs this season, and Hahn is able to trade him before next year, the prospects that come to the Chicago in return might not be major-league ready until 2020. If the timeline for the south siders competing starts in 2019, it would be an unfortunate delay. If Frazier doesn’t get better until 2018, well then the prospects you receive could come even later. In one way, the rebuild is delayed by not having prospects under your guidance and direction. In another way, it’s delayed by those prospects not helping the team until a time when the White Sox have already started to attempt to compete.

Overall, Todd Frazier is a big problem for the White Sox. None of the outcomes look good, but fans need to keep things in perspective. The team is around .500 right now, most of our prospects are performing well, and we have a plethora of veterans to trade. If Frazier lets us down, it’s a hindrance, but not an end for the rebuild.

Be sure to look for our trade value updates on the rest of the White Sox veterans in the upcoming weeks.

 

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