White Sox

White Sox solidify third base with Todd Frazier trade

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White Sox solidify third base with Todd Frazier trade

The White Sox hope they’ve found lineup protection for Jose Abreu and an answer to their third base woes all in Todd Frazier. 

The team acquired the two-time All-Star third baseman from the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday in a three-team deal. In exchange for Frazier — who hit .255/.309/.498 with 35 home runs last season — the White Sox traded Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson and Francellis Montas to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which sent a package of minor leaguers to Cincinnati.

Frazier not only provides immediate power — he has 108 career homers — but also legitimacy to a revolving door at third for the White Sox, who have used 22 third baseman since Joe Crede’s last game in September 2008.

[RELATED - White Sox trade for All-Star 3B Todd Frazier]

“We are thrilled to be able to add a player the caliber of Todd Frazier,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We feel that addresses a spot that has been rather difficult to fill for an extended period of time at third base. We view him as one of the finer third basemen in the game, all-around third basemen, from an offensive and defensive standpoint. We are thrilled to be able to add him to the lineup.”

When it came to improving an offense that scored 3.89 runs per game last season, nowhere did the White Sox need more help than on the infield. The White Sox ranked 30th in OPS at second base (.564) and third base (.612) last season.

In the course of a week, the White Sox acquired Brett Lawrie, who had a .706 OPS last season, to play second base, and now Frazier. 

Coupled with the free-agent signings of catchers Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro and Hahn thinks like he has upgraded an offense that finished last in the American League in runs, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS in 2015.

“I certainly feel a lot better,” Hahn said. “You’ve got a middle of the order presence, obviously a power hitter with extra-base ability as well and someone to help solidify the middle and make it a little bit tougher to come through. We also feel in the last few weeks that we’ve upgraded catcher and second … So that’s conceivably a third of the lineup where we’ve made progress.”

Frazier, who won the Home Run Derby last July, had a sense he’d be traded since the season ended. The 30-year-old third baseman is two seasons from free agency and Cincinnati is a franchise in desperate need of young players. Even though he’s leaving the only team he’s ever known and switching leagues, Frazier said he’s eager for his new start.

“I'm pretty excited, I've got to be truthful with you,” Frazier said. “I know it's the American League, I know it's going to be a little different. It might take a little time to get acclimated, but I just saw the lineup on TV, it kind of put a smile on my face to see the guys we've got.”

While Hahn talked about the difficulty in surrendering what he did to acquire Frazier he has to be happy about what he didn’t give away. Two players the Reds inquired about most were top prospect Tim Anderson and No. 2 prospect Carson Fulmer, the team’s first-round pick in June.  

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Still, the White Sox had to part with Thompson, a defensive dynamo with enough power to hit 25 homers, the speedy Johnson, who hit well in the early part of the season, and the hard-throwing Montas, who came over in the Jake Peavy trade of 2013.

But in the end, the idea of placing Frazier at a position where 22 players have started since Crede’s last game was enough for Hahn to make the call.

“It’s never easy to give up homegrown or quality young talent,” Hahn said. “Certainly today was no exception. At the same time, we certainly are very aware that you have to give up something to get something. While we are thrilled to get Todd, it does sting a little bit to give up the three players we had to give up to get it done.”

Part of Yoan Moncada's development: Hitting better — and simply getting more experience — against left-handed pitching

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USA TODAY

Part of Yoan Moncada's development: Hitting better — and simply getting more experience — against left-handed pitching

Yoan Moncada’s development is one of the most important things at the major league level during this rebuilding, developmental season.

Fortunately for the White Sox, he’s having a fine season at the plate overall. He came into Wednesday’s game against the visiting Baltimore Orioles with a .262/.345/.469 slash line to go along with six homers, 10 doubles and 16 RBIs.

But as good as that might be, Moncada is not a finished product. Remember, this is a guy who was baseball’s top-ranked prospect a year ago, and there are expectations that he will be one of the best players — if not the best player — on the next championship-contending White Sox team.

And so there are obvious things that he needs to keep working on. Most noticeable to fans and observers is that high number of strikeouts. He’s got 55 in 166 plate appearances (one of the 10 highest totals in the American League) and will almost surely shoot past his 74 strikeouts in 231 plate appearances in 2017.

Another area of interest in Moncada’s development is what he’s doing against left-handed pitching, which quite frankly isn’t much.

Rick Renteria moved Moncada out of the leadoff spot against lefty starters some time ago, and the numbers don’t look good overall. As a right-handed batter against left-handed pitching, the switch-hitting Moncada is slashing .154/.244/.231 with three extra-base hits and two RBIs. That’s opposed to a great .302/.383/.557 line as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitchers.

But Renteria is seeing some growth from Moncada, who batted right handed against a lefty reliever during Tuesday’s eighth-inning rally. He didn’t get a hit, but he drove in the game-tying run with a sacrifice fly, progress in Renteria’s eyes.

“I’ll tell you this, the right-handed at-bat yesterday against the lefty was, for me, a real impressive at-bat because that’s the side he’s been trying to work on a little bit more against the lefties,” Renteria said. “To be able to drive the ball and create the sacrifice fly to drive in that run was really big.”

What’s the key, then, to getting at-bats like that against left-handed pitchers on a consistent basis from Moncada? According to Renteria, it’s just a matter of Moncada seeing more left-handed pitching. And when that happens, the skipper added, we could see more pop from Moncada from that side of the plate than we do from the left side, where he’s hit 12 of his 14 career homers.

“He doesn’t have as many at-bats (from the right side) just because he doesn’t face that many lefties,” the manager said. “You need a larger amount of at-bats against lefties to get a sense of where you’re going to ultimately be.

“I still think that he probably has the ability of having more power, even though he has power from the left side, I think he has the ability to have more power from the right side. It’s just a matter of him trying to manage that side of the box without trying to be the same as he is on the left-handed side.

“Very few switch hitters are the same from both sides of the plate. Some show more power from one side, and some show manageability of the barrel. He happens to have manageability of the barrel left handed and power. And I think he can have more power, maybe not as much manageability of the barrel from the right-hand side, but more power and more contact.

“But that’s going to continue with more at-bats against lefties, as many opportunities as we can give him.”

As with most things during this rebuilding season, Moncada remains a work in progress. Strikeouts, hitting from the right side, these are some of the things that he’s working on in a season that because of its disappointing win-loss record affords him the time and opportunity to develop.

White Sox fans are pretty happy with Moncada right now. But they could see a much different — and potential much better — player by the time the rebuilds hits its apex and that contention window opens up.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.