Despite a disappointing fourth-place finish in the AL Central this past season, the White Sox sat largely dormant at last week's Winter Meetings.
Apparently they prefer to have the headlines all to themselves.
The Sox improved their major league roster in a big way Wednesday, acquiring slugging third baseman Todd Frazier from the Reds in a three-team deal. The Sox sent top prospect Frankie Montas, second baseman Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson to the Dodgers, with the Dodgers sending second base prospect Jose Peraza, outfielder Scott Schebler and infielder Brandon Dixon to the Reds.
The big name in the deal is obviously Frazier, who hit .255/.309/.498 with 35 home runs, 89 RBI, 82 runs scored and 13 stolen bases in 2015. Frazier has averaged 32 home runs and 84 RBI over his past two seasons.
"We view him as one of the finer all-around third basemen in the game," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "We are thrilled to be able to add him to the lineup."
And they didn't part with much immediate talent to get him. Montas is the key loss, but the 22-year-old has just 15 major league innings under his belt and likely would have been a high-leverage reliever -- but not the team's closer, with David Robertson in town -- at best next year. Both Thompson and Johnson contributed to the big club last season, but neither had defined roles on the 2016 club.
For 2016 and possibly beyond, the 21-year-old Peraza is likely the most interesting fantasy prospect involved in the deal. The Reds will be Peraza's third organization this calendar year despite being viewed as a top-100 prospect while a member of the Braves' system heading into the 2015 season. In five minor league seasons, Peraza has stolen 210 bases while batting .302/.342/.387 overall. With the Reds actively shopping Brandon Phillips, Peraza has a chance to enter next season as a starter at the keystone and could be allowed to run at will on a rebuilding Reds club.
The White Sox, who acquired Brett Lawrie last week to now slide over to second base, don't appear to be done, either. The team could still use an outfielder and may look to upgrade at shortstop with Tyler Saladino currently penciled in as the team's starter.
"We certainly feel better than we did at the end of the season," Hahn said. "(But) the way we approach things, we are not satisfied."
Molina Has Thumb Surgery, Again
A torn ligament in his left thumb stole the final few weeks of the 2015 season from Yadier Molina. Now it's threatening to cut into his 2016 season as well.
Molina, who had October surgery to repair the torn ligament, underwent a second procedure Tuesday after it was determined that his thumb was not healing properly.
The most recent surgery likely guarantees that Molina will get a late start to the season, although the Cardinals are holding out hope that he'll be in the lineup on Opening Day. The 33-year-old won't be cleared for the start of spring training, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, but the GM said the strength of Molina's thumb -- mostly how it relates to swinging a bat -- will be the determining factor in Molina's availability to start the year.
"I think by the end of January, the cast should be off and then he'll begin his strengthening exercises throughout the month of February and March," Mozeliak said. "The biggest question will be: When will he swing a bat? They don't feel like any of this should affect how he catches or when he can catch, but to have him ready by Opening Day, [swinging] will really be the test."
Molina will wear a full cast on his wrist for several weeks in hopes of helping the process along.
The catcher had been feeling discomfort in the thumb for a few weeks prior to telling the Cardinals medical staff. An MRI taken last week "showed that the ligament's elasticity was almost back to where it was after Molina's initial injury on Sept. 20," per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
If Molina is forced to miss regular season time, new Cards backup catcher Brayan Pena will be asked to take on more of a role. Mozeliak said the team will also "exhaust" other available catching options this winter to fortify the position.
Giants Ink Cueto To Six-Year Deal
The Giants officially threw their hat into the NL West ring on Wednesday.
After signing Jeff Samardzija earlier this month, the club announced its six-year, $130 million contract with Johnny Cueto on Wednesday. The deal, which contains an opt-out clause after the second year, runs through 2021 and has a club option for 2022.
The team is hoping the pitcher they signed will look more like the one who owned a 2.62 ERA through 19 starts with the Reds last season and less like the one who posted a 4.76 ERA after a deadline deal to the Royals. A move back to the National League, where Cueto has made all but 13 of his 226 career starts, may help the 29-year-old. Cueto owns a shiny 3.30 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 1,171/410 K/BB ratio in those 226 starts.
For the Giants, Cueto rounds out a rotation that has already added Samardzija and returns one of the game's best starters in Madison Bumgarner. With a healthy Jake Peavy and Matt Cain filling in the final two spots, the club appears to be a formidable contender in what will likely be a three-team race for the NL West crown. It's an even year, after all.
Quick Hits: Molina wasn't the only Cardinal to go under the knife recently, as Randal Grichuk underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia. Unlike Molina, he's expected to be fully healed by the time spring rolls around ... Cult hero Bartolo Colon will remain a fan favorite with the Mets after the two sides agreed to a one-year, $7.25 million deal. Colon, 42, was surprisingly effective this past season, posting a 4.16 ERA in 31 starts ... Recently signed Steve Cishek will enter the season as the Mariners' closer, general manager Jerry Dipoto has said. Any struggles like he had last year with the Marlins and Joaquin Benoit will be waiting to fill in at the end of games ... The Indians and outfielder Rajai Davis reportedly have an agreement on a deal in the one-year, $5.25 million range. Davis hits lefties well and could see plenty of time early as Michael Brantley makes his way back from shoulder surgery ... Davis won't be the only new face in Cleveland after the team signed Mike Napoli to a one-year deal as well. Napoli got a $7 million base deal with up to $3 million in incentives after putting up a .734 OPS with 18 homers in 2015 ... The Orioles reportedly made a low-key addition, agreeing to sign Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim to a two-year, $7 million deal. Kim, 27, batted .326/.438/.541 with 28 homers and 121 RBI in the KBO this past season ... The Braves finalized their two-year, $5.3 million contract with Tyler Flowers. Flowers and A.J. Pierzynski will share time behind the dish for the rebuilding Braves ... The Angels signed outfielder Daniel Nava to a one-year, $1.375 million contract. Nava will have to battle for playing time with the Angels after batting .184/.315/.245 in 139 at-bats last year.