The Winter Meetings came and went, and outfielder Clint Frazier is still with the New York Yankees to the surprise of many people. Already 25-years-old, the former first-round pick hasn’t been able to establish himself as an everyday outfielder since coming over from the Cleveland Indians in the 2017 Andrew Miller trade.
Right now, it seems like the Yankees have a higher valuation of Frazier than the rest of the league. He has been the subject of trade rumors for several months now, yet he is still set to don the pinstripes. Frazier is in a difficult position, though, because the Yankees have so much firepower in the lineup and in the outfield that there won’t be consistent playing time for him once everybody is healthy.
For now, he seems to be fifth in the outfield pecking order, behind Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, and Brett Gardner. Once Aaron Hicks returns from rehabbing his right arm, Frazier could be sixth. Additionally, the team recently signed Zack Granite, a weak offensive player but one that is capable of playing the three outfield positions at a high level, to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Frazier seems to be a good offensive contributor, but hasn’t yet proven he is a special talent. His wrists are quick as a thunder, but his plate discipline was disappointing in 2019. With the big club, he had a 6.5 BB% and a 28.5 K% in 246 plate appearances, with 12 homers and a .267/.317/.489 line. That was good for a 108 wRC+, above the league average.
His glove, despite continued reports from Triple-A officials saying that he is working on different aspects of his defensive play, remains highly suspect. He had -8.8 fielding runs according to FanGraphs in 2019, a very poor mark. In 395.1 innings as an outfielder this year, Frazier had a -16.7 UZR/150, -5.2 UZR, and -8 DRS.
So, what will the team do with him? There aren’t many holes in the Yankees’ roster, but it isn’t really fair to keep him for a fourth straight year and not give him regular playing time. It may be in the best interest for all involved parties to trade him.
The team could trade him now, but he may be needed as a depth piece given that Hicks is slated to miss a few months of the 2020 regular season. He could enter the OF-DH rotation in that case, but the playing time won’t be too much given that other non-outfield bats may also be used in the DH spot.
Once Hicks returns, however, the prospects of playing time for Frazier will considerably diminish. The Yankees can consider the idea of flipping him near the July 31 trade deadline.
The other thing to consider is that if he doesn’t play regularly, he won’t show off his offensive skills at the highest of levels, and his trade value might not increase. It could even decrease, given that he would hold less team control for a potential acquiring club. If he, indeed, improved his routes and reads in the field, how would he prove it if his playing time is severely cut?
Keeping Frazier for the long-term may be far-fetched given his limited defensive contributions and the crowded Yankees’ outfield. Judge, Hicks, Gardner, and Stanton are all indispensable parts of the lineup, and Tauchman can play good defense in center and the corners, giving him the edge over guys like Frazier.
What do you think the Yankees should do with Clint Frazier? If you would trade him, which position would look to bolster? Would you flip him for a prospect? Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comment section.