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5 free agent second basemen the White Sox should consider

by Jordan Lazowski

Last time, we reviewed ten outfield names that the White Sox could consider adding via free agency. In the article, it was clear that many of the names available in the White Sox’s perceived price range are platoon-type players that make the market very rich with options.

On the other side of things, while the market is pretty great for shortstops, the market is rather barren for second basemen. Indeed, it’s a weaker position throughout the major leagues as well, with the league average wRC+ for second basemen sitting at 96. So, with a thin market and a weak position overall, the White Sox don’t necessarily need to prioritize this position the same way they need to prioritize starting pitching and second base.

Still, here are five free agent options the White Sox could look to sign in free agency to help fill their second base hole, why they make sense for the team, and what a contract may look like for each of these players.

Jean Segura

2022 Statistics: .277/.336/.387, 10 HR, 105 wRC+, 1.7 fWAR

Jean Segura was a popular name among White Sox fans heading into the 2022 season as the White Sox were looking to dump Craig Kimbrel’s salary to another team. Segura fell well short of his usual .420-.440 SLG that he had been posting in recent seasons, but his low strikeout rate and respectable walk rate helped him to still post a wRC+ over 100 (105 on the year).

Segura also comes as a plus-plus defender at second base. After posting +9 OAA in 2021, Segura followed that with a respectable +3 OAA season in 2022. With the White Sox looking to improve on defense, Segura checks the box as a second baseman with plenty of range.

Potential Contract: 2 years, $24M. If the White Sox’s budget is truly as limited as it is rumored to be, it’s arguable that $12M on second base is not where the White Sox should be throwing their money with much more pressing needs. However, if the team decides to go that route, Segura has the defense and postseason experience to make his contract worth it.

Adam Frazier

2022 Statistics: .238/.301/.311, 3 HR, 81 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR

Another popular name among White Sox fans, Frazier has really struggled since his strong first half in 2021. Since the 2021 All-Star Break, Frazier has hit just .247/.307/.317 (77 wRC+). However, he’s made up a lot of his value defensively, posting +6 OAA at 2B in 2022 and showing decent enough versatility to handle the OF as well as SS.

That being said, the White Sox already have someone who relatively fits this description in Leury Garcia. If the White Sox are serious about making an upgrade here, it may not be in the form of Adam Frazier.

Potential Contract: 2 years, $16M. If the White Sox are willing to pay Adam Frazier $8M a year, it’s fair to question why they even declined Josh Harrison’s $5.5M option in the first place. However, Frazier does hit left-handed and have some recent postseason experience, so maybe the White Sox can help fix what he’s lacked in the past season and change.

Brandon Drury

2022 Statistics: .263/.320/.492, 28 HR, 123 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR

Brandon Drury had a breakout season in 2022 where he felt, for the first time, that he was able to show people the type of baseball player he truly is. In doing so, he likely earned himself a pretty nice contract after a pretty pedestrian start to his career. The difference between this season’s wOBA (.350) and xwOBA (.316) is large enough that it causes some hesitation to buy fully into what Drury did in 2022, but a 3.0 fWAR season will likely be hard for teams to ignore.

Additionally, Drury is versatile defensively, playing all four infield positions in 2022. He was relatively average at all of them, posting +1 OAA at 1B and -1 OAA at 3B. He also did a lot of his damage against LHP (160 wRC+) but did post respectable numbers against RHP (109 wRC+). It may not be the improvement against RHP that the White Sox are looking for (Harrison posted a 99 wRC+ against RHP in 2022), but it is indeed still an improvement.

Potential Contract: 3 years, $33M. Drury’s home run potential is going to get him paid, though teams will likely express hesitations surrounding his age and the fact that he’s only posted one breakout season. However, the ability to mash as he has is still valuable, and if the White Sox can fix their handedness problems elsewhere, Drury might prove to be a risk worth taking.

Elvis Andrus

2022 Statistics: .249/.303/.404, 17 HR, 105 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR

Given how we’ve only gotten through three options before arriving at a shortstop, it should be pretty clear that there are not a ton of free agent options at second base that would be overly appealing. Andrus quietly had a really solid year, and that was even before coming to the White Sox. His .271/.309/.464 slash line for the White Sox obviously put his season over the top, but 17 home runs is a total he hadn’t reached in his career since the 20 home runs Andrus hit in 2017. In addition, Andrus was a clear leader on and off the field, and he endeared himself to White Sox fans pretty quickly by single-handedly trying to will the White Sox to the playoffs.

The risks with Andrus are obvious. He’s never played second base in his major league career before, and 43 games of really good baseball feel like the exception – not the norm – for a player who will be entering his age-34 season. However, Andrus expressed a desire to stay on the South Side, so perhaps there is a way to make this work.

Potential Contract: 2 years, $20M. Much like with Segura: if the White Sox’ budget is truly as limited as rumors say it is, then $10M on a converted SS who doesn’t historically supply much offensively doesn’t necessarily fix the White Sox’s current issues at a price that makes sense. Andrus should get paid for posting a 3.5 fWAR season, but it should likely be by a team that has the financial flexibility to prioritize a defense-first player. The White Sox aren’t one of those teams at current.

Dansby Swanson

2022 Statistics: .277/.329/.447, 25 HR, 116 wRC+, 6.4 fWAR

Here’s an outside-the-box idea that’s a little bit fun too. In the same realm as Andrus, Swanson would be a converted shortstop. However, unlike Andrus, Swanson is likely to get PAID this offseason after hitting 25 home runs in 2022 and having his best season in terms of fWAR by a total of 3.0 wins.

There are going to be plenty of teams in the mix for shortstops this season, and quite literally no one is better defensively than Swanson at shortstop (+21 OAA). However, could you potentially pay him a premium and convince him to come play second base for the White Sox?

Potential Contract: 6 years, $140M. Swanson isn’t likely to get the most lucrative contract among the free agent shortstops, and a $23.5M AAV *should* be more than reasonable for the White Sox. While it remains up to Swanson if he would ever move over to second base – and if he did, the White Sox would probably need to pay him a bit of a premium. This similar logic in thinking, while currently written for Swanson, could also be applied to someone like Xander Bogaerts, who is among the weakest of the free agent shortstops currently available historically, even though he posted an uncharacteristically good season at SS in 2022. The Red Sox have discussed moving him to 2B for a while, especially with Trevor Story on the team.

Final Thoughts

Considering that two of the above five options aren’t even second basemen by trade, it speaks to the overall weakness of the market. If the White Sox are looking to make an upgrade from internal options Leury Garcia, Lenyn Sosa, and Romy Gonzalez, they will likely have to do it via trade. Brandon Lowe, Jorge Polanco, and Ezequiel Duran, among others, remain popular possibilities, especially because all of them hit from the left side of the plate.

With any converted shortstops, it would make more sense for them to not be among the best in their class. So, while this exercise did call out Swanson because of his price, someone like Xander Bogaerts would actually be a better candidate to move to second base because of his defense. There is precedent for this to happen because of Trevor Story – that being said, it’s going to be difficult to convince guys to play a position that isn’t their natural one unless you pay them a bit more.

At the end of the day, this exercise shows just what a thin position second base is overall. Given the other holes the White Sox have, it still likely makes the most sense to spend elsewhere.

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Featured Image: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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Robert Moore

Segura is the one the Sox need

Kevin Kovalovsky

Why not Ketel Marte or Kelton Wong in trade?

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