The White Sox are a very weird baseball team. They're overshadowed by the Cubs. They wear boring uniforms while playing in a boring ballpark. Even when they win the World Series or sign a high profile Cuban defector like Jose Abreu, they're kind of just... there. They're perhaps most famous for a century-old scandal and their oddball TV announcer. The White Sox merely exist, rounding out the 30-team group with the Rockies and Padres.
- White Sox acquire Frazier from Reds
- Dodgers acquire OF Trayce Thompson, RHP Frankie Montas and 2B Micah Johnson from White Sox
- Reds acquire IF Jose Peraza, IF Brandon Dixon and OF Scott Schebler from Dodgers
There's quite a bit to break down here. What's immediately apparent is that two teams did quite well in this trade, while one team tripped over themselves and fell face down into a pile of excrement.
First and foremost, Frazier gives the White Sox an excellent third baseman and a good infield. The recently-acquired Brett Lawrie will now play second base, and with Abreu at first and the defensively competent Tyler Saladino currently penciled in at shortstop, Rick Hahn has put together a strong group.Their outfield still leaves much to be desired (Adam Eaton is flanked by the withered husk of Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia), but the White Sox are having themselves a good offseason.
Frazier has been worth 9.1 fWAR over the last two seasons. He's hit .264/.322/.479 with 64 home runs. His 33 stolen bases are most by any third baseman over that span. DRS credits him with 13 runs saved since 2014. Frazier also dramatically lengthens the White Sox lineup, which was severely lacking in gravitas this year. There's still work to be done if Chicago is to truly challenge the Royals and Indians for the AL Central, but this is a very good start.
The Dodgers also made out quite well for themselves. Thompson, the brother of Golden State Warriors standout Klay Thompson, has the speed and arm to at least adequately play all three outfield positions. He can also hit for power, though his long limbs somewhat limit him in his capacity to consistently make contact. His 1.5 fWAR in 44 games with Chicago was actually the third-best mark by any White Sox player in 2015, but his .295/.363/.533 line is quite unlikely to carry forward. Montas likely ends up as an impact reliever. He can touch 100 MPH with ease, but his lack of a reliable third offering will ultimately push him into a relief role. The Dodgers will take any bullpen arm with a pulse, of course, so he should have plenty of opportunities to make an impact in 2016. Johnson is very fast and profiles as a possible platoon partner with Enrique Hernandez at second base. Johnson's hit .301/.371/.430 against right-handers in the minor leagues, and the right-handed Hernandez struggles with same-handed pitching (64 wRC+). Overall, the Dodgers acquired a quality fourth outfielder, a possible late-inning reliever, and the second half of their second base solution.
And they gave up little of value for it. Peraza is the figurative headliner here, but his offensive production took a steep dip when he reached Triple-A this year. The former top prospect had a 129 wRC+ at High-A and a 121 at Double-A in 2014. Yet 494 plate appearances for the Braves' Triple-A squad resulted in just a 97 wRC+, and limited action with the Dodgers' Triple-A squad following his trade for Hector Olivera yielded an even worse 79 wRC+. Scouting stat lines is exceptionally bad, so there's also this:
Executives and scouts from both the Braves and Dodgers have told me they view Peraza as a utility player at best. Low return for #Reds here— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) December 16, 2015
That's not good. As for Dixon and Schebler, the former hit 22 homers across three levels, including a trip to the Arizona Fall League. That's not bad at all for an infielder. The problem is that he's 23 and only just reached Double-A, where his bat collapsed something fierce. There's still a chance he could rebound and move quickly once again in 2016, of course, but he needs to master Double-A first. The latter cracked the majors this year, and he may have a shot at being a part of the Reds' left field situation on Opening Day. There's nothing overly sexy about his profile, but there's power in his lefty bat.
Yet that's not the package you want to get for a star player. Frazier is an impact third baseman and may have been the most popular Red this side of Joey Votto. It's almost as if the Dodgers inserted themselves into the deal, stole the prospect package that the Reds received as it was en route to Cincinnati, and shipped the Reds the Peraza package in its stead. It's a mystifying deal for Cincinnati. Between this and possibly hiding the Aroldis Chapman incident from the Dodgers, their front office has had quite an offseason.
Regardless, White Sox fans should be very pleased with this trade. Frazier, Lawrie, Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro cannot be the entire offseason if the White Sox plan to truly contend. But it's certainly a start.