The Chicago White Sox have requested release waivers on infielder Brett Lawrie, the team announced today.
This is an unexpected move for the ChiSox, who agreed to a one year, $3.5 million deal with Lawrie over the offseason, avoiding arbitration. I believe that the White Sox will only have to pay him roughly 1/6th of that amount by releasing him now, since he was arbitration-eligible heading into this season.
The 27 year old former #16 overall pick in the 2008 draft was, just two years ago, a headliner in the deal that sent Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays from the Oakland A’s. Lawrie had a disappointing year for Oakland in 2015, and was shipped to the ChiSox in December, 2015, for Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. Lawrie battled leg issues last year that he has attributed to the type of shoes he was wearing, but was continuing to have problems this spring, and Chicago apparently decided they were better served moving on.
Lawrie was slated to become a free agent after 2017 anyway, and if Chicago, which appears unlikely to be a contender this year, didn’t think he could contribute significantly enough for him to bring back anything of value at any point this year, then cutting bait now would seem to make sense. Still, I think its fair to say this is surprising.