The Red Sox are “moving closer” to a deal with the White Sox that would send third baseman Todd Frazier to Boston, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). Both the Red Sox and archrival Yankees, who are 2.5 games behind AL East-leading Boston, sent scouts to Chicago on Sunday to observe Frazier and teammate David Robertson, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman. However, it seems the teams have different motives. While the Red Sox are more interested in landing Frazier than Robertson, it’s the other way around for the Yankees, per Heyman.
If the White Sox move Frazier prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the soon-to-be free agent’s unlikely to bring back a big return, with Nightengale suggesting he’d net the White Sox a “fringe prospect.” Moreover, Chicago would probably have to eat some of the remaining $5MM-plus left on Frazier’s contract, adds Nightengale (on Twitter). The 31-year-old would offer an acquiring team a competent everyday player, though, as he’s in the midst of his sixth straight respectable full season. Overall, the slugger has hit .210/.330/.483 with 16 home runs in 330 plate appearances. Those numbers are clearly superior to the production the Red Sox have gotten from their slew of third basemen, who have batted a woeful .234/.292/.327 with seven homers in 494 PAs.
While Frazier to Boston may be “almost inevitable,” as Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network reported Saturday, there are other third basemen on the Red Sox’s radar, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets, with a source describing their search as “wide open.” One other possible candidate could be A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie, whom the BoSox have been scouting, Crasnick relays (Twitter link). Heyman lists the Padres’ Yangervis Solarte and the Marlins’ Martin Prado (previously reported) as other possibilities.
Lowrie began his career in Boston, which selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft and dealt him to Houston in 2011 for reliever Mark Melancon. Now 33, Lowrie hasn’t seen significant action at third base since 2015, when he was still with the Astros, but his bat would bat be an upgrade over what the Red Sox’s hot corner choices have offered this year. The switch-hitter has slashed .273/.340/.448 with nine homers in 365 trips to the plate with the A’s, who are rebuilding and have no real reason to keep the $6.5MM man around through the season. With a $6MM club option (or a $1MM buyout) for 2018, Lowrie could be more than a rest-of-season stopgap for Boston, though the club might only need a Band-Aid at third with highly touted prospect Rafael Devers creeping closer to the majors.
Solarte, 30, carries even more team control than Lowrie. He’s due a guaranteed $6.5MM through 2018 ($2.5MM this season, $4MM next) and has two affordable club options after that ($5.5MM in 2019, $8MM in 2020). Also a switch-hitter, Solarte has slashed .268/.349/.425 with 10 long balls in 289 PAs this season. However, a strained oblique has kept him out of action since June 20.
While Lowrie to Boston would be a homecoming of sorts, the same would apply to Robertson going to New York. The Yankees drafted Robertson in 2006, in Round 17, and he developed into a shutdown reliever with the club a few years later. Robertson was so effective as both a setup man and closer with the Yankees that Chicago handed him a four-year, $46MM contract as a free agent in 2014.
Even though the Yankees let Robertson depart, they “always have” been bullish on the right-hander, a source told Heyman. His $12MM salary this year and $13MM guarantee in 2018 aside, any bullpen-needy team would love to have Robertson, who’s amid the best of his three seasons in Chicago and has posted a 2.78 ERA with 12.8 K/9 and 3.06 BB/9 over 32 1/3 innings. Robertson is the closer for the White Sox, but he’d return to his old setup job with the Yankees and form what would figure to be an elite game-ending trio with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. Robertson would also fill a seventh- or eighth-inning role with the Red Sox, who have an all-world closer in Craig Kimbrel.