Are the White Sox buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? So far, I'd say they are sellers, but who the hell really knows?
The Sox traded starting pitcher Edwin Jackson and utility man Mark Teahen to the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday in exchange for relief pitcher Jason Frasor and minor-league pitcher Zach Stewart. Let's examine the pluses and minuses of this trade, shall we?
First and foremost, this trade is about money. Jackson is making $8 million this season. He will be a free agent next winter. Scott Boras is his agent, so there was zero chance he would be back with the Sox in 2012. The Sox have been going with a six-man rotation for much of the season. They wanted to get rid of one of them to save some money, and Jackson was the easiest choice.
Teahen was scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2012. He's been a complete bust, and the Sox were eager to move that salary to anyone who would take him.
Here's the disappointing part: Sox GM Kenny Williams reduced Jackson's value by giving Teahen to Toronto. If he had traded Jackson on his own, he could have gotten a better player(s) in return. But Williams was under orders to shed salary, so gaining financial relief was a far greater priority than maximizing a return on Jackson. Williams could have asked Toronto to give him a good prospect for Jackson. Instead, he asked Toronto to take Teahen's bad contract off his hands. The Blue Jays obliged.
So, the Sox didn't get a great return in this deal, but Frasor is not a bad pickup in the short term. Right now, the Sox are overworking Jesse Crain in the set-up relief role. Crain has made a team-high 46 appearances and thrown 46 innings already this season. That's a lot. Now, the Sox have another proven right-handed reliever to help Crain for the rest of the season. Frasor has a solid 2.98 ERA in 44 appearances this year. These two can share the load setting up closer Sergio Santos.
As for Stewart, he's being sold to the Sox fan base as a guy who could step into the rotation shortly. Not so sure about that. He's a former third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2008, but he has been pitching at Double-A this year after previously pitching at Triple-A. I'm not sold on a soon-to-be-25-year-old with an ERA over four in Double-A. Sounds like a new project for pitching coach Don Cooper.
I think a lot of Sox fans were galled when Toronto turned around and flipped Jackson to St. Louis as a centerpiece of a trade that brought young outfielder Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays.
Rasmus has struggled all season with the Cardinals, but he's a young position player with upside who could be a cornerstone player. I'm not a big Rasmus fan personally, but if you have to trade an Edwin Jackson, you'd rather deal him for an everyday player than a middle reliever. The day's events have left a number of people asking, "Why didn't the Sox send Jackson to St. Louis for Rasmus? That's what Toronto did..."
Well, I think it came down to the Cardinals wanting left-handed relief help in addition to Jackson. The White Sox didn't have a match for them. St. Louis, I'm sure, asked about Chris Sale. Williams wasn't going to give Sale up, but it was rumored he offered Matt Thornton to the Cardinals.
St. Louis wasn't going to take Thornton, plain and simple, because Thornton is owed $11 million over the next two years. In addition, he has an option for $6 million with a $1 million buyout for the 2014 season. So, any team that acquires Thornton is assuming, at minimum, an $12 million financial commitment.
The Cardinals need to save every penny possible to try to retain free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols this winter. They needed a cheaper option than Thornton. Like Sale, for example. The Sox said no, so the Blue Jays entered the fray as the third team. They ended up with Rasmus, and the Cardinals are getting lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski from the Jays.
At the end of the day, the Sox have a weaker roster to show for their efforts. Teahen is no loss, but I'd rather have Jackson than either Frasor or Stewart.
About the only good news? The Sox announced that loafing, slumping, lazy center fielder Alex Rios would be "taking a back seat." Alejandro De Aza was called up from Triple-A to play center field, and he hit a two-run homer in the Sox 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers Wednesday.
Sitting Rios' sorry ass down was a move that was long overdue, so perhaps that is the one silver lining in Wednesday's roster moves.