The Chicago White Sox were presumably looking to pare down payroll this offseason. With that assumption in mind, yesterday's move by GM Kenny Williams becomes a bit of a head-scratcher.
The White Sox picked up the $3.75 million option on reliever Jason Frasor for the 2012 season. The move doesn't strike me as one that a rebuilding team makes this early in the offseason.
Frasor is originally from the Chicagoland area, but was unimpressive in two months of work in the Chicago bullpen. At age 33, he hardly seems like a indispensable piece of the White Sox relief corps.
Frasor returning could mean that either Jesse Crain or Matt Thornton might be on the trade block. That seems unlikely, as such a move saves little money. Thornton struggled with the closer's job early in the season, but he and Crain made a nice left/right setup tandem. Why break that up to save a drop in the bucket salary-wise?
With Sergio Santos signed as the closer for the next three seasons and some young arms available to eat middle-inning relief, it stands to reason that a cheap veteran arm, a la Will Ohman, could be obtained if needed this winter.
Perhaps Don Cooper saw something he thought he could work with in Frasor, who had an impressive first half of 2011 and has seen time in several bullpen roles. Williams may have also picked up the option with the intention of having a movable piece for a trade in the winter meetings.
Whatever the reason, Williams has retained Fasor's services for an additional year. We can only speculate on where Williams goes from here.