By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — What will the Chicago White Sox do with third baseman Todd Frazier? With many changes expected after another disappointing season, that’s one of many pivotal decisions the team’s front office must make.
The 30-year-old Frazier has one more year of salary arbitration before he’s set to become a free agent in November 2017. He has hit a career-high 39 home runs this season while playing solid defense at a position that had been a black hole for the franchise since Joe Crede left the club in 2007.
The in-your-face Frazier wants to stay in Chicago beyond next season.
“I have expressed numerous times that I want to stay here and finish my career here,” Frazier said. “I love the atmosphere, and especially the coaching staff has been great to work with. We started the year 24-12, and the comfort level among us all was just flying out of the door. Once we figure out what we are doing for next year and what they want to do with me, they can go forward. I expect to be back. I sure hope I stay here.”
Frazier and the club have been disappointed about his .169 batting average with runners in scoring position, and it’s an area he knows he needs to improve. That’s an aspect of the game that’s plagued Frazier in recent seasons, as he hit .210 with runners in scoring position in 2015.
Since the All-Star break in 2015, Frazier has a .220 batting average, well below his career mark of .251. Despite his torrid home run pace, Frazier’s OPS has also dropped to .774, and his strikeouts are at a career-high 154.
Frazier has been really durable, as he’s on track to play in at least 157 games for the third straight year, and numbers don’t tell the whole story. He wasn’t afraid to take on leadership duties when he came to the White Sox. Some teammates have embraced him in that role, while some have resisted.
“People are different about the way they approach the game,” Frazier said. “I have played with some ‘I’ guys. I have been lucky to play with more team-oriented guys than ‘I’ guys. You all know who those guys are. Hopefully you try and work through it together, and things eventually click.”
For the 2016 White Sox, that didn’t happen after the 23-10 start to the season. They have been 19 games under .500 since May 8.
“If we all came back from this team next year, we would be a lot better,” Frazier said. “They will all be more comfortable here and playing together for a while makes a difference. We all know that is probably not going to happen. There are free agents and expectations, all that jazz. It would be nice if we came back, because we have a good squad here. Tough decisions for the baseball guys.”
Frazier made $7.5 million in 2016. With the home run numbers, he’s likely to double that figure in arbitration next season. Will a long-term deal be in the near future for Frazier or a new address in 2017? We will watch and wait to see the direction of the White Sox brass take, beginning Monday.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.