Heading deeper into the second half of the season, the Yankees are quickly reaching a point where they need to make a decision on being buyers or sellers. The team has battled under-performance, injuries and illness to put their post-season asperations in doubt. One of the teams long out of the playoff race and looking to deal is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Could a trade for second baseman and outfielder Adam Frazier be one piece in the puzzle that the Yankees are trying to put together?
Since reaching the major leagues in 2016, Frazier has bounced back and forth from being a slightly above league average hitter to slightly below. With the help of a career .330/.395/.460 season this year, he now possesses a 106 career wRC+ mark.
Frazier is striking out a career low 10.7 percent of the time in 2021, and his whiff rate is in the 98 percentile for all major leaguers (that is good). What the 29-year-old does not have is the type of metrics that imply there is more in the tank if the Yankees were to reach out and acquire him.
Frazier is in the lowest four percentile of the league for average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage and barrel percentage. Those figures rank lower than Brett Gardner and Gleyber Torres, two players who fans have found themselves extremely frustrated with this season. Frazier is not an impact bat that is going to put the lineup on his back and carry the team.
Frazier is going to register a lot of singles and spray the ball around, hitting to all fields between 31 and 37 percent of the time. One area of his game that could tick upward is his power, as when he hits home runs they are usually pulled to right field where he could benefit from the Yankee Stadium short porch.
On the defensive side of the ball, Frazier is a below-average second baseman. His negative one outs above average ranks him near the bottom of the league. Over the years, Frazier has also played a fair share of left-field, so he could find his way onto the field in a variety of roles.
Luke Voit and Gio Urshela’s trips to the injured list are likely to keep DJ LeMahieu from playing second base in an everyday role moving forward. That pushes the responsibility to Rougned Odor, who has has hit .219/.290/.426 this year for the Yankees, which puts him within a hit or two of being exactly league average at any time (96 wRC+). He has also played better than expected on defense, as he ranks near the top of the league in outs above average percentile.
Frazier would be an upgrade on Odor in the lineup, as his consistent bat would provide a player who is difficult to strikeout and on-base far more often. Alone, he is not the answer that the Yankees offense needs to spark its firepower for the remainder of 2021. He could serve as an incremental step in that direction while not breaking the Yankees’ strictly managed budget. With one year of arbitration remaining, Frazier is on just a one-year, $4.3 million contract.
If the Yankees are going to make a push for the playoffs, they will almost certainly have to upgrade a handful of positions around the diamond. Adam Frazier could be a piece of that puzzle as he is brought in for a push down the stretch and in 2022 as well.