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The Yankees’ patience paid off with Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade

After years of trade rumors, two of the Yankees’ most divisive players are poised for big roles in 2020.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees

Are you even a sports fan if you’re not making zany, completely unrealistic trade proposals? We’ve all devised trades that only make sense in our own heads for five minutes at a time, but put the Yankees over the top in our imaginations. Trade proposals also make up some of the most engaging Pinstripe Alley site and Twitter comments.

For at least three years now, two names that repeatedly popped up in almost every trade proposal: Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade. Fans and media alike have long speculated that these two exciting, yet unpredictable, players were on the fast track out of New York. With both players entering their age-25 seasons and looking at increased roles on the roster, though, it may have actually turned out best with the Yankees having kept these players around.

Neither Frazier nor Wade are prospects anymore. Three seasons into their big-league careers, both have seen sporadic playing time shuttled between the majors and the minors, but have left enough of an impression where we know what they stand at the MLB level. Frazier can shape the game with his bat, even if his fielding remains rough around the edges. Wade offers speed and defensive versatility, but is a light hitter. Both players have flaws, but offer things that the Yankees need this season.

The team is shorthanded in the outfield with Aaron Hicks’s injury, and there are questions around how well Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman will play in 2020, if for different reasons entirely. Plus, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have had issues staying healthy, which opens up opportunities in the outfield for Frazier and Wade.

Depending on how the Yankees divvy up the DH spot, there could be a chance for Frazier to be the Yankees’ semi-regular left fielder in 2020, a spot that fans had hoped he would ultimately ascend to when the club first acquired him in 2016. It may have taken longer than expected, and there were definitely some bumps along the way, but Frazier still has a chance to reach the expectations thrust upon him years ago.

As for Wade, there is also some uncertainty in the Yankees’ infield after Didi Gregorius left for Philadelphia. While Wade doesn’t have as direct a path to a starting job as Frazier does, Wade’s positional versatility and speed—something the Yankees don’t have much of on the roster—should give him a leg up for a bench spot.

If I told you at any time within the last two years that Frazier and Wade would still be on the Yankees in 2020, and in line for playing time, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Keeping them, however, proved the right decision.

First of all, neither player probably had as much trade value as fans believed they did. Frazier’s stock dropped (however unfairly) when concussions left him unable to play for much of 2018 and some dust-ups with the media and questions about defensive effort marred his 2019. As for Wade, he never hit enough at the big-league level, making him less appealing in trades. While the potential was there, no team would have been getting a sure thing in either player, which usually diminishes the potential returns acquired in a trade.

The only real reason the Yankees had to trade Frazier or Wade over the past two years was to get them off the team for a change of scenery, and that wouldn’t have been a smart move to make. Thankfully, making trades just for the sake of making trades isn’t part of Brian Cashman’s M.O.

The Yankees know better than to just pull the plug and sell these players for pennies on the dollar. There was value hidden in these players, and after proving their worth by grinding in Triple-A Scranton, they earned a call-up back to the Majors to close the season. For the first time in their careers, they have serious chances to make the roster out of spring training.