Posted on March 3, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Chicago White Sox have parted ways with infielder Brett Lawrie. On Friday, the club requested waivers to give Lawrie his unconditional release. Lawrie spent just one season with the White Sox but was hampered by leg injuries throughout his time with the club. His last appearance during the 2016 season came on July 21.
Lawrie made his big league debut in 2011 with the Toronto Blue Jays, and despite some initial success, he’s never blossomed into an impact player despite being one of the team’s top prospects at one point. After four seasons with the Blue Jays, Lawrie was part of the trade package sent to the Oakland A’s when Josh Donaldson traded to the Blue Jays prior to the 2015 season. After one year in Oakland, Lawrie was traded to the White Sox last offseason. He spent the first half of the season as Chicago’s primary second baseman until a leg injury forced him to the DL.
“Part of this process of building something sustainable for the future involves making some difficult decisions, and today was a difficult decision,” explains White Sox GM Rick Hahn. “Brett’s a talented player who no doubt will help a club this season. At the same time, we are committed to giving an opportunity to several of our young players. Players who are going to be here for an extended period of time and we want to find out about.”
Lawrie is yet to appear in a spring training game this year. However, despite his struggles to stay healthy during his time with the White Sox, Hahn says that wasn’t a factor in the team deciding to let him go.
“This was a baseball decision about what’s in the long-term interest of the club,” Hahn said. “Major league playing time and at bats are scarce. Some of these players have already shown what they can do at the minor league level. Some of these players have succeeded in limited exposure at the big league level. This is about getting them more opportunity in Chicago to show what they can do and how they fit into our long-term plans.”
Hahn specifically mentioned Tyler Saladino, Yolmer Sanchez, Leury Garcia, and Matt Davidson as players who will get more of an opportunity. Saladino figures to get the first crack at locking down the every-day job at second base after he spent significant time at both second base and shortstop last year, hitting .282 with a .725 OPS.
However, most believe that top prospect Yoan Moncada, who was acquired this winter in the Chris Sale trade, will be the White Sox second baseman of the future. Moncada is not being considered for the opening day roster, so at least for now there is an opportunity for Saladino and the others to establish themselves.
“Moncada is going to be a factor at some point here in the future,” Hahn said Friday. “As I’ve said from the time we acquired him, very likely not to start the season, but you can envision during the course of the 2017 season, wanting to have second base open for Moncada.”
As for Lawrie, his recent health issues could make it difficult for him to find a job. It’s likely that he’ll have to settle for a minor league deal, as most teams aren’t in the market for an extra infielder at this point in spring. However, Lawrie is still just 27, has experience playing both second base and third base, and has some track record of success in the majors, so his days in baseball are far from over.