Todd Frazier is a great player, and he is now a member of the Chicago White Sox. Last year, the White Sox were the most pathetic offensive team in the American League. The South Siders finished dead last in the American League with 622 runs. The Pale Hose were also dead last in slugging and OPS, and were second-to-last in on-base percentage and walks.
Frazier is a great player, and an All-Star in his own right, but there is a big, giant mess to clean up when it comes to the White Sox lineup. Hitting in US Cellular Field will still keep Frazier up around 30 home runs, but in reality, is more of a six-hole hitter than a four-hole hitter. Frazier is only a .257/.321/.463 hitter, and has struck out over 130 times on a 162-game basis. His .309 OBP in 2015 was a career-low, and Frazier batted just .220 after the All-Star break. On the road, away from Great American Ballpark, Frazier batted just .233/.285/.448, suffering a drop in OPS of 150 points. That may not bode well in the American League Central with several pitcher-friendly parks.
In Chicago last year, Jose Abreu hit 30 of the 136 home runs. Overall, the White Sox gave over 100 plate appearances to eight players who registered less than 1.0 WAR. Avisail Garcia, Adam LaRoche, and Conor Gillaspie turned 1,270 trips to the plate and 333 total games played into -1.9 WAR. The entire group of hitters assembled by the White Sox was worth 12.2 WAR in 2015, with 7.7 coming from Abreu and Adam Eaton.
Brett Lawrie was acquired from the Oakland Athletics for a pair of mid-level pitchers. In 494 career games, Lawrie is a .263/.316/.420 hitter with 59 home runs. The British Columbia native surged onto the scene in 2011 with the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting nine home runs and recording a .953 OPS in 43 games. Lawrie has not come close to duplicating those numbers since becoming a full-time major leaguer. The former first-round pick has never played more than 150 games or posted an OPS+ over 100 for a full season. Even accounting for the pitcher-friendly park the A’s call home, Lawrie put up an OPS+ of 92 in his lone season by the bay.
Former All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Alexei Ramirez did not have his option picked up, so there is a gaping hole at shortstop. Somehow, someway, the team must find a way to get out from under the final year of LaRoche’s contract. In his age-35 season, LaRoche hit .207 with only 12 home runs in 127 games. The White Sox are better off without LaRoche at this point, as his roster spot could be used on a player with more defensive value.
Todd Frazier is a good start to the offseason for the White Sox, but he is hardly the type of player who will push Chicago above the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and rapidly-emerging Minnesota Twins. With a hole at shortstop, and virtually no power coming from all three outfield spots, Chicago needs to step up and make two more big moves this offseason. Ian Desmond hardly seems like a fit anywhere else in the league, and the White Sox should be able to sign him for a relatively short-term deal and modest salary. Desmond is coming off the worst year of his career, but did improve in the second half.
As for the outfield, the White Sox cannot expect to contend with Cabrera, Eaton, and Garcia. Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes are out there, just waiting for someone to step up and sign them. The market has been very slow to play itself out for both, given the question marks surrounding their status as true superstars. The White Sox have Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Frazier, and Abreu all on seemingly modest deals. There will be money to spend for a big bat, preferably Upton. The worst thing that could happen for the White Sox would be sticking with Garcia and LaRoche and seeing the Tigers step up for Cespedes.
Getting Todd Frazier is a good start to the offseason for the White Sox, but it cannot be the last move the team makes. The top-three pitchers in the rotation are as good, if not better, than what the rest of the division can offer. The offense, even with Frazier, leaves something to be desired. There are two holes the White Sox can conceivably fill with Desmond and Upton, and the front office must remain aggressive. With more work on the offense, the White Sox are contenders for 2016. Without it, just keeping the Royals, Tigers, and twins within shouting distance seems like the best Chicago can do.