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White Sox trade rumors: White Sox closing in on deal for Brett Lawrie

Bay Area report says Athletics would receive "a pair of minor leaguers" for third baseman

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

It took a while for the White Sox to start stirring at the Winter Meetings, but the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser says they may have found a solution to one of their infield holes:

NASHVILLE — Brett Lawrie’s time in Oakland appears to be over.

Acquired from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson deal last year, Lawrie was close to being moved to the White Sox for a pair of minor leaguers late Tuesday night. According to two big-league sources at the winter meetings, the teams were still discussing names for the return portion but the Lawrie part was essentially agreed upon.

As I pointed out on Tuesday, Lawrie isn't a particularly exciting name, because a lot of things went in the wrong direction during a season in which he couldn't blame health, most notably his defense at third base.

2012-14 101 98 6.3 16.1 3.6 1.8
2015 149 92 4.7 23.9 -17 0.6

(*per 1,000 innings)

But it's hard judging him by defensive metrics for a few reasons. Early in his career, he warped play-by-play data because Toronto used him in short right field for shifts on left-handed hitters, which gave him credit for all sorts of plays regular third basemen didn't have a chance to make. He also bounced between third (106 starts) and second (40 starts) in 2015, and utility work might not be his best usage.

His plate discipline also eroded, as he swung at more stuff out of the zone, and swung and missed at more stuff in general:

O-Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact%
2012-14 31.5 69.7 89.4 82.7
2015 36.1 61.1 82.7 75.5

Yet the quality of his contact was still strong enough, so even with these warts, he's still better than anything the Sox have at third base. Moreover, his ability to cover second gives the Sox the ability to shop at both positions should a third baseman enter the picture later (Nobuhiro Matsuda, perhaps?). If the downturn in his performance is an aberration, then he's a decent buy-low candidate ... assuming the Sox paid a low price in the first place.