The White Sox announced today that they’ve requested waivers on Brett Lawrie for purposes of granting his unconditional release. Earlier in the offseason, the White Sox elected to tender a contract to the 27-year-old and settled with him at $3.5 million, a pay cut relative to the $4.125 million he received the previous year. A healthy Lawrie would have been worth more than that figure, but the mysterious leg injuries that have kept him sidelined since July 21 still appear to be an issue. It seems the White Sox wanted to give Lawrie a chance to prove he could get on the field but wanted to cut bait before winding up on the hook for Lawrie’s full salary. The White Sox will owe Lawrie one-sixth of his 2017 arbitration figure.
Lawrie appeared in 94 games last year for the White Sox and hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs. He was known for his hustle, intensity, a mouth guard that earned him the nickname “Canadian Dracula” from Jason Benetti and tattoos that earned him the nickname “Lizard” here at South Side Sox. White Sox fans seemed to buy into Lawrie’s no-nonsense attitude, and aside from the occasional comment about his frightening vigor, it seemed he was a fit in the clubhouse as well.
Lawrie’s departure would seem to give Yolmer Sanchez a clear path to a roster spot if he didn’t have one already and will likely result in Tyler Saladino assuming full-time second base duties to open the season while Yoan Moncada hones his craft in the minor leagues. While it is a bit sad that Lawrie wasn’t able to recover and suit up for the team again, the silver lining is that the White Sox will get a chance to give some additional reps to their less experienced players.
After the move, the White Sox have 59 players left in camp and the 40-man roster decreases to 38.
UPDATE: Rick Hahn spoke to the media and said Lawrie’s release was about getting younger guys (and Saladino) more playing time.
Rick Hahn says White Sox re-signed Brett Lawrie in Dec. because thought then might need him to fill hole in case of trade (likely Frazier).— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) March 3, 2017
Rick Hahn said it's important for White Sox to give time to Saladino, Sanchez, Leury Garcia. Reiterated Yoan Moncada likely starts in minors— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) March 3, 2017