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The Yankees missed an opportunity with Todd Frazier

Considering the price, the Yankees could regret it.

American League Championship Series Game Six: New York Yankees v. Houston Astros

If I were to think of one free agent comparison for Todd Frazier, it’s actually Chase Headley. Headley, although heading into free agency a full year earlier, has a remarkably similar career to Frazier through age 31:

Headley had the better glove and more contact skills, and Frazier has the power, but they come out to an identical 111 wRC+ and a WAR within the margin of error. Yet Headley, who signed for four years and $52 million before the 2015 season, made $35 million more than Frazier, who just signed with the crosstown rival Mets for two years and $17 million.

There are a few factors as to why this happened. The first is that Frazier himself limited his market, signaling to owners that he had a strong preference for the Yankees or Mets. The second is the incredibly slow offseason, where the pace has come to a crawl and prices have slumped significantly. The result is Frazier getting paid like a one-win player for two years, instead of the two-win-plus player he actually is.

On one hand, this deal makes a lot of sense for the Mets, who desperately needed a third baseman, and it just so happened that the stars aligned. I wouldn’t say the Yankees were that far behind, though, and the only thing that should have precluded the front office from pulling the trigger is the confluence of price and Miguel Andujar.

This isn’t to say Andujar doesn’t have a shot to be excellent; he does. After being ranked 14th overall by FanGraphs, and tabbed with a 60 future value, it would make him just a younger version of Todd Frazier under team control.

The downsides here are two-fold: if Andujar is bad, then the Yankees are stuck with Ronald Torreyes and the waiver wire until the trade deadline. If Andujar is good, but still developing, then they will still lose out on a win or two if we think about a lower-percentile Andujar projection versus Frazier’s median, which is about 2.1 fWAR. That win could be crucial in a division where the projections say they are neck-and-neck with the Red Sox.

At just an $8.5 million average annual value, Frazier would have fit into the (totally constructed) financial picture and would still have given them about $10 million in flexibility (again, constructed) going towards the deadline. It also wouldn’t have prevented Andujar from finding his footing, and if he knocked our socks off, then Frazier would have gone the way of Headley, Brian McCann, and Starlin Castro. It’s not like he wouldn’t have trade value.

This isn’t going to be make or break, but it could make a difference. Maybe the Yankees are sure in their estimation that Andujar is a two-win-or-better player out of the gate, but if they’re wrong, they’ll regret pinching their pennies when Frazier came at such a bargain. Considering both the power and clubhouse presence he brought to the team, it already feels like a shame that the front office passed on him. We’ll always have Thumbs Down, Toddfather.