Monday, December 16, 2013

White Sox trade Addison Reed to Arizona for Matt Davidson

The White Sox rebuilding efforts continued Monday as the team traded closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Matt Davidson.

Davidson, 22, appeared in 31 games at the big-league level last year. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Reno, where his numbers were good. He posted a .280/.350/.481 slash line with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs. He was a Pacific Coast League midseason All-Star and was named MVP of the Futures Game in New York after hitting a go-ahead, two-run home run for the United States.

One question mark with Davidson is his defense. His fielding percentage sits at just .925 during his minor league career. That's not particularly good, but Sox fans might remember that Robin Ventura wasn't exactly Gold Glove material when he first came to the major leagues. As a 21-year-old third baseman in Double A, Ventura's fielding percentage was .930, not much better than Davidson's. Through hard work, Ventura became an elite defensive player. While I would never forecast that for Davidson, he will have an opportunity to improve his craft defensively if he listens to his new manager.

I like this move by White Sox manager Rick Hahn, who continues to add major league ready youngsters to his roster. Davidson has a chance to open the season as the everyday third baseman. If he does, he'll join Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia in a lineup that is getting younger and more athletic with each passing week. For my money, this is how you rebuild a team.

Sure, losing Reed hurts. He had 40 saves on a bad team in 2013. He's only 24 years old, so he still has some upside. He will help an Arizona team that is trying to position itself to win next year. The Sox, in contrast, are not likely to contend in 2014, so it doesn't matter much who their closer is. Maybe Nate Jones wins that job, or perhaps Daniel Webb takes the next step in his development and earns the position.

Either way, if you're the White Sox right now, a potential everyday third baseman is a much bigger priority than a closer. That's why Hahn made this swap. I agree with the reasoning.


  1. Davidson is far from a sure bet, but here's the thing: Even if he doesn't hit any better than he did in his cup of coffee in Arizona last year (.237/.333/.434), and plays kind of crappy defense, he's still a better version of Conor Gillaspie, the nominal starter before this trade. Though if you want to read a cautionary tale into it, Gillaspie's AAA numbers in the PCL were .289/.268/.447. Though I think you have to like that Davidson hit the level younger, and his power tool will keep pitchers from coming after him as aggressively if he shows he can belt a major league fastball.

    I'm a huge Reed fan, but unless Davidson's control of the strike zone collapses, he should be at least an equal value, quite possibly worth much more. Relievers just aren't worth as much as everyday players, especially a position as scarce as third base. I'm in agreement. This is how you rebuild.

  2. And I think we mentioned in previous entries the Sox had a stockpile of right-handed relievers. Even with Reed gone, they still have established big leaguers in Jones, Lindstrom and Belisario. Webb, Petricka and Rienzo all have some MLB experience now and could land in the bullpen next season as well. The Sox traded from a position of strength in an attempt to fill a position that has been a weakness since Joe Crede's back gave out.

    Davidson is not a sure bet, very true. No prospect is, but this is a risk worth taking. Someone on White Sox Interactive said yesterday that Davidson "did not look like a future star at Reno." That's fair, but the thing is he doesn't need to be a "future star" for the deal to be a success for the Sox. If Davidson develops into a good enough player to be at 3B every day, then he has more value than a closer -- even a successful closer such as Reed.

  3. I think it must be more 2005 World Series glow that leads to some revisionist history with Crede. He didn't really solve the White Sox's historically chronic third base problem for very long in any way that most people were satisfied with. When you take his glove into account, he was good in '05, very good in '06, bad and hurt in '07, and good then hurt in '08. Before the World Series season, most Sox fans thought he was a huge disappointment.

    The Sox get some criticism for not sticking with young players, but they really did show some intestinal fortitude with Crede when he was just OK his first full year in '03, then bad in '04.

    I hope Davidson doesn't get the wrath of fans if he's just "adequate." Adequacy would be nice after some of the garbage we've seen there the last few years.

  4. Well, Crede did get the majority of the starts at the position in five out of six years between 2003 and 2008. And he had at least 17 home runs and 55 RBIs in each of those five years (2007 being the exception). I think maybe people didn't realize what they had at that time. Crede wasn't as good as Ventura, therefore he was a disappointment -- especially pre-World Series.

    That said, even at the height of his offensive struggles in 2004, his overall production was still better than what the Sox have received at the position from 2009 to 2013. Since then, maybe the half-season of Gordon Beckham in 2009 is the best the Sox have done. The half-season of Kevin Youkilis in 2012 was OK, but nothing special either.

  5. Don't get me wrong -- Crede was a good regular. I just think sometimes fans have this mentality that if a prospect doesn't turn into a perennial All-Star, he was a bust. I think Crede would have been viewed this way if he hadn't been a good regular on a title-winning team. And that's just completely wrong.