GLENDALE, Ariz. — At the time he was acquired by the White Sox, Todd Frazier had a convergence of significant life moments.
The New Jersey house he lived in was for sale, his wife was pregnant with their second child and the family was about to move into a newly purchased home. And then, of course, there was the little matter of the Dec. 16 three-team trade that brought Frazier to the White Sox from the Cincinnati Reds.
As Frazier described it Sunday morning, he had a “lot of crap going on, a lot of great stuff.”
Two days later, his daughter was born.
So it wasn’t until a week later that the two-time All-Star third basemen could even begin to research his new team. And with each investigation, Frazier, who has been in White Sox camp for several days, has increasingly grown confident in his new club.
“We’ve got the key cogs,” Frazier said. “I did a little homework. I looked online a little bit and saw the capabilities we have with this team. The pitching staff is great, through the bullpen and starters. And I’ve said this all the time, if we’re healthy, if the team is healthy and we’ve got guys who produce and do their jobs, we’ll be fine.”
If Frazier can match what he has done the last four full seasons with the Reds, the White Sox should be much better all around than they were in 2015.
Not only should Frazier provide the offense with a middle-of-order bat — he has averaged 25 1/2 home runs the past four seasons — but the glove is very good, too.
From 2012-15, Frazier produced 5 1/4 Defensive Runs Saved per season and had an average Ultimate Zone Rating of 6.4, according to fangraphs.com.
Last season, White Sox third baseman were 30th among 30 teams in OPS (.611) and 29th in Wins Above Replacement with minus-1.3.
“It’s important to have a guy who can play it on both sides of the ball,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s got a track record. That’s the biggest thing, is you’re looking at a guy that when you start looking at what he’s done in the past couple of years, you’re confident he’s going to be able to come over here and do that.”
Frazier is a pretty gregarious guy — “I talk a lot,” he said. But as he tries to get his bearings in a new clubhouse, Frazier intends to operate in a little more of a low-key fashion.
“I’m not going to be as boisterous,” Frazier said. “I’m not going to be crazy. I have to find my little niche.”
Frazier said he doesn’t mind any pressure expectations may bring.
Last week, Fangraphs declared the team’s trade for the 2014 Home Run Derby champion to be the second-best move of the offseason. Even though he’s switching leagues — “I’ve got a lot more homework to do,” he said — ZiPS projects Frazier to produce 3.7 WAR while Steamer has him at 3.4.
That kind of production would not only provide protection for Jose Abreu, it could help the White Sox turn around an offense that was mired in a slump for much of 2015. If they can get those issues taken care of, the White Sox may just end their streak of losing seasons at three.
“This is a team that is striving to be winners, to make the playoffs,” Frazier said. “That’s basically the first goal there has to be. You’ve got to get to the playoffs. You start off slow. You always have team goals, you always consider them really high, but once we get to the playoffs, then we can do some damage. So let’s start with the division, and then we can go from there.”
After everything that transpired this offseason, this baseball stuff has to be much easier for Frazier. With everything else occurring all at once, he needed a little time to process his livelihood and how it would be affected by the first trade of his career. But now that he’s arrived, Frazier likes what he sees.
“I had so much going on,” Frazier said. “It took me basically, like, a week to calm down and breathe a little bit. I kind of looked online and saw a lineup of the guys we had. I got pretty excited.”