Todd Frazier knows the White Sox might trade him and a few of his teammates before the end of the month.
Instead of stressing out, the 31-year-old slugger approaches his uncertain future with a smile.
“Knock, knock,” Frazier said as he sat in the dugout before the game Friday.
Mr. Trade who?
“I don’t know,” Frazier said with a grin. “I actually just made that up, to be honest.”
Fortunately for Frazier, he is better at knocking balls out of the park than he is at telling knock-knock jokes. But his happy disposition was not out of place in the Sox’ locker room despite the latest gutting of big-league talent.
The last-place Sox (38-50) opened the second half of the season with a 4-2 loss to the Mariners. Avisail Garcia finished with two hits, two stolen bases and two runs, but Sox hitters managed little else.
The outcome was overshadowed by the departure of Jose Quintana, a popular veteran who was shipped to the Cubs a day earlier for a package of minor-leaguers highlighted by outfielder Eloy Jimenez and right-hander Dylan Cease.
Sox players said they would miss Quintana but were happy to see him go to a contender.
“ ‘Q’ was an amazing teammate,” said James Shields, who allowed four runs in six innings. “The Cubs and Joe Maddon have a really good pitcher over there now. He’s going to fit in really well.
“It’s always tough to lose guys, but we also know as players it’s part of the game. His name has been floated around quite a bit.”
Sometimes, Sox players joke with each other about who might be next to go before the July 31 deadline. It could be Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak or anyone else a contender might covet.
“Sure, we joke around about it,” Frazier said. “We never know, though.
“It’s your livelihood, so why not talk about it? But I don’t think anybody’s really worried about it. I think everybody understands if they do get traded now, it’s to a team that is hopefully in the mix to be in the playoffs.”
General manager Rick Hahn has been transparent throughout the season about his long-term vision. He reiterated that the team was “very much open for business” when it came to the trade market.
“We’ve had a number of conversations leading up through the Quintana trade and since,” Hahn said. “And I suspect that a healthy pace will continue here through the coming weeks.”
Not everyone in the locker room seemed so comfortable with the subject, even if they understand the strategy. Jose Abreu was expressionless as he reflected on the trade of Quintana, his friend and All-Star teammate.
“I won’t be surprised if there are a few more moves,” Abreu said. “We are buying into this process, and you know [there are] going to be a few situations.”
How much longer will the rebuilding process take?
“I honestly don’t have an answer for that yet,” Hahn said. “I know we are still in the process of trying to accumulate as much talent as possible. Once we get to a point where we start seeing some of the impact talent develop the way we anticipate or hope and contributing at the higher levels of the minors, we’ll have a better sense about what a championship team will ultimately look like.
“There will be holes. We might not have found an answer at a specific position internally and will have to either deal from a position of strength to acquire via trade or be aggressive in free agency when the time comes. But at this point, we’re still in the first stages of this process, and that’s talent accumulation.”
Which means Mr. Trade might knock again soon.
Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.