Chicago White Sox to Release Brett Lawrie

The Chicago White Sox will part ways with Brett Lawrie after one season, requesting release waivers on the 27-year-old infielder.

The Chicago White Sox have requested release waivers on infielder Brett Lawrie, according to MLB.com. If Lawrie goes unclaimed after 48 hours, he will be granted his unconditional release and become free to sign with any team.

Per MLB Trade Rumors, the White Sox will only have to pay Lawrie one-sixth of his $3.5 million arbitration salary (approximately $574,000) for 2017.

Traded to Chicago from the Oakland A’s in December of 2015, Lawrie was limited to just 94 games last year as a strained left hamstring cut his season short in late July.

Lawrie wasn’t particularly convincing in his one campaign with the White Sox, slashing .248/.310/.413 over 384 plate appearances. He did show some pop, however, belting 12 home runs with 36 RBI in his abbreviated playing time. His 99 OPS+ also represented a modest increase from the 95 mark he managed the year before.

Though the White Sox are very publicly rebuilding, it seems a bit puzzling they would part ways with Lawrie now. He’s still only 27, not making an exorbitant sum of money, and has been a generally league average performer who can play both second and third base. Does this move mean that top prospect Yoan Moncada could be with the club sooner rather than later? It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. Eligible for free agency after the season, Lawrie likely didn’t have a future with the ChiSox beyond 2017 anyway.

Lawrie should generate a healthy amount of interest around the league once he clears waivers. A streaky hitter throughout his six-year major league career, Lawrie has shown flashes of the talent that made him a first-round draft selection by the Brewers in 2008. He announced himself boldly with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, debuting to a .293/.373/.580 slash line (153 OPS+) with nine homers in his first 44 games.

Unfortunately, Lawrie never really succeeded in living up to that early promise. Over the next five seasons, he posted an unremarkable .258/.310/.407 line (97 OPS+) while collecting 62 home runs and 228 RBI. He has also struggled to stay on the field, averaging only 109 games played per season during that span.

Nevertheless, Lawrie has a reputation for his high-energy style of play. Prospective teams might view him as a potential spark plug to put into their lineup or on their bench before Opening Day. However, they also might heed whispers that clubhouse issues led to Lawrie’s quick exit in Oakland.

Lawrie had been dealing with leg pain in recent days that was keeping him out of Spring Training games, so that might also weigh on the minds of would-be suitors.

Until Moncada is ready, Tyler Saladino will probably hold down the fort at second base. 24-year-old Yolmer Sanchez could also see playing time. It’s worth keeping in mind that third base could open up at some point as well if the White Sox eventually trade Todd Frazier as expected.

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