Despite acquiring top prospect Matt Davidson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for closer Addison Reed, the Chicago White Sox‘s third base job still belongs to Conor Gillaspie, and will for most of this season.
There’s little doubt that Davidson will start the season in the minors. Decently strong at the plate, he hit .280 with 17 home runs and 74 RBIs for Triple-A Reno last season and earned the All-Star Futures Game MVP award. However, his defense at third is improving, but still shaky; in 109 games, he committed 17 errors, down from 28 errors in 127 games in 2012.
Gillaspie has a strong edge over the 22-year-old Davidson on defense. Since debuting for the San Francisco Giants in 2008, Gillaspie has committed just 19 errors in the big leagues, 18 at third base and one at first. He stepped in several times last season as a late-inning defensive replacement at first base, demonstrating defensive versatility that could help him down the line. At the plate, Gillaspie is hitting .269 so far this spring with two home runs and two doubles, while Davidson’s batting average sits around .217 with one home run and three strikeouts.
Unlike in the crowded situation in the outfield, the third-base job really comes down to Davidson and Gillaspie. Between signing Jose Abreu and trading for Davidson and center fielder Adam Eaton, the White Sox also signed former Seattle Mariners third baseman Alex Liddi, and have infielders Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien capable of manning third in the minors. Versatile veteran Jeff Keppinger is still hampered by an injury that has kept him out of action so far this spring, Liddi likely won’t make the Opening Day cut and Garcia and Semien are both primarily middle infielders, narrowing down the third-base field to just Davidson and Gillaspie.
Basically, the job is Gillaspie’s to lose. He’s already proven to be several notches above average (but still below a human vacuum cleaner) on defense, but will need to do some serious bartering between leather and wood to stay in the South Side’s hot corner until Davidson is ready to be the third baseman of the future.