By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The future of White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier is much like our weather in recent days: foggy.READ MORE: Man Shot And Killed In East Garfield Park
The White Sox changing their direction and focus one year after acquiring Frazier puts his status in limbo as the start of spring training awaits in three weeks. In December 2015, he was traded to the White Sox in a three-team swap in which they sent out three prospects. Now with Chicago having made the distinctive move toward rebuilding through a young core of prospects, Frazier appears to be trade material. That move could come any time between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
For the most part, the 30-year-old Frazier did a fine job for the White Sox in 2016. While his .225 average was disappointing, he hit 40 homers and drove in 98 runs. He also played a solid third base, manning the position better than anyone had on the White Sox had since Joe Crede was the starter almost a decade ago. With one season left on his deal, Frazier now waits to see if he’ll be dealt before Opening Day.
The first offseason blockbuster by the White Sox sent ace left-hander Chris Sale going to the Red Sox in exchange for four top prospects. That move marked the new direction Chicago was taking.
“That was tough to hear,” Frazier said on “Inside the Clubhouse” on 670 The Score on Saturday. “Chris Sale is a beast. He is definitely one of the best pitchers in the league. That funky delivery makes him difficult to hit. Not only that, but he was a great guy. I got to know him really well. His family and my family became really close. We are really going to miss him. He was a really great player. I guess they are going in a different direction.”
That direction has Frazier wondering what his destiny will be over the next few months after both Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton were moved.
“You as a young player just try to stay in the league and establish yourself,” Frazier said. “All of the sudden it’s my time. Now it’s me making some big-time money and playing the game I love. All I can do is focus on what I can do to help this team win. If you work on team goals, your personal goals will be right there at the end of the year.”
A late-developing market had its glut of home run hitters who like Frazier swung and missed a good deal of the time. That perception appears to have held up any robust trading flurry for Frazier.READ MORE: Ed's Tech Notes: Apple Cutting Production On iPhone 13, Twitter's New Feature, Drone Delivers Lungs For Transplant
Designated hitter/first baseman Mike Napoli and first baseman/outfielder Chris Carter and other long ball threats still remain as free agents. Napoli hit 34 home runs last season, while Carter tied for the National League lead with 41 home runs. They both are still looking for teams in 2017. The fact that Frazier hit just .225 on the season and .169 with runners in scoring position in 2016 may have hurt his net worth in the market place so far.
By most accounts, Frazier would love to stay with the White Sox and work out a long-term deal. As of now, that opportunity hasn’t presented itself, and the durable Frazier knows a trade may be inevitable at some point. The impact on family is his main concern.
“Those are big factors,” Frazier said. “My wife has been through it before. She packed us up and moved on short notice. I do worry about that. At the same time, I know my wife can handle it. That is the other part about being a baseball player. You can get uprooted at any time on the road, and your family must take on the burden of moving.”
Having a leadership role foisted upon him wasn’t always easy for Frazier in 2016. He assumed that role on a team that had few experienced leaders last season. Verbal battles with ex-teammate Eaton caused some clubhouse trauma. At one point,Eaton had his locker moved away from Frazier because the relationship became untenable.
That said, Frazier doesn’t back away from taking on challenges.
“It was different,” Frazier said of his first season with the White Sox. “I had to prepare for a new league with pitchers I had not seen. My batting average was not there. We all know that. I did feel my other numbers at the end of the year were at where they should have been. We talk about being prepared all of the time. That is what you must do. We have a lot of young kids coming in. We will see when they get the call. Hopefully when they do, it will be go time. We have guys who will have their first big league experience. I think their time will come pretty quick. I am there to be the leader and help them out, f they have any questions.”
Will Frazier stay or go? Time will soon answer that question.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Warm Temps For The Bears Game
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.