The Price for Brett Lawrie

The Price for Brett Lawrie
Zack Erwin delivers a pitch in Fall Instructs, 2015 (Kim Contreras / Future Sox)

Late on Tuesday night, Oakland Athletics' beat writer  Susan Slusser reported that the White Sox and Athletics were on the verge of a trade involving 3B Brett Lawrie with the return from the White Sox being "two minor leaguers." On Wednesday, it took hours and hours of posturing conversations between the two teams to agree on a return. At 8 CST, Slusser made good on her initial report and reported the trade was about to be made official.

Erwin, a left-handed pitcher drafted in the fourth round out of Clemson in 2015, is looked at as the better pitcher of the pair of arms going to Oakland and is ranked as Future Sox’s #16 prospect. With a lack of 2nd and 3rd round picks, Erwin is considered to be the second best prospect for the White Sox from the most recent draft. Erwin is a lengthy pitcher (6’5”, 195) who is known as more of a finesse pitcher. His fastball only tops out at 91 MPH but his secondary repertoire is both advanced and diverse. Erwin was looked at as a guy who had the pitchability to propel him through the system quickly.

Erwin started his professional career in rookie-ball with Great Falls and was dominant in his time there (21.1 IP, 15K/3BB, 0.84 ERA). White Sox Scouting Director Nick Hostetler put it simply, “He just got there and threw strikes…He really deserved his promotion.” After moving up to Kannapolis, Erwin continued to pitch well (19IP, 15K/4BB, 1.89 ERA.) Certainly, it should be considered that Erwin was older than his competition in rookie ball and A-, but nonetheless, he performed admirably. Erwin has the upside of a back end rotation piece and could serve as a long man out of the pen given his ability to neutralize hitters on both sides of the plate.

Wendelken, 22, is a right-handed pitcher who was one of three prospects to come to Chicago alongside Avisail Garcia in the Jake Peavy trade in July of 2013. While Wendelken is ranked 28th in the White Sox system in our midseason list, he is coming off a great season. After a short stint in the White Sox system in 2013, the team moved him to the rotation in 2014. As the team tends to do with plenty of potential MLB relievers, the team put him in the bullpen to allow him to hone his secondary offerings. Wendelken didn’t fare well as a starter but bounced back in 2015 out of the bullpen. In 43 innings pitched, Wendelken sported a 2.72 ERA and showed great peripherals (11.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9). His fastball sits 91-93 and tops at 94 but it is his change up that allows him to strike out hitters at his proficient rates. The offering has the right velocity disparity and has GIF-worthy fade to it. The key for Wendelken is to tighten up his breaking ball alongside his fastball-change up combo. The big righty should start the year in AAA Nashville for Oakland and could find himself in the Majors sooner than later if the Major League club were to have a need.

Taking this trade at face value, it looks like a win for the White Sox. Relative to the prospects that were previously thought to be included in the Lawrie return, these two pitchers pale in rank. That being said, these are two pitchers who are coming off of strong years who have really shown to possess advanced secondary stuff. It can be assumed that the media and fans of Chicago will support this trade as the White Sox have filled one of several holes while using trade chips that were tertiary in rank, but the Athletics isolated a couple intriguing arms that can really move up the ranks as both of them showed in their 2015 efforts.

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