Before the coronavirus outbreak struck, Clint Frazier was in line for an Opening Day job in the Yankees’ outfield. Various injuries cleared a spot for his taking. But now that the season is on hold, Frazier looks like the odd man out whenever (or if) play resumes.
Just to be clear, I know that Clint’s situation isn’t necessarily important in the grand scheme of things. The magnitude of COVID-19 is jarring. That said, I can’t help but feel bad for Frazier given the circumstances. After spending time in Triple-A in each of the last four years, there’s a good chance he returns to Scranton once again. A fifth straight summer in Scranton Is Not What You Want as a 25 year-old former top prospect. Especially one whose bat appears big league ready.
If he was with any other team, Red Thunder probably would have a big league gig. Sure, his defense has been pretty bad, but his offensive numbers have earned him a shot. He’s a lifetime .254/.308/.463 (102 OPS+) in the majors, though he owns a 111 OPS+ in the last two seasons. At Triple-A, he’s hit .262/.333/.463 in 934 plate appearances. Perhaps more offense was projected when he was a prospect, but he also hasn’t had an extended big league chance. Still, he’s had some good swings:
Of course, this isn’t the first time something’s gotten in Frazier’s way. The big thing: the concussion and subsequent issues related to it in 2018. Clint played in just 69 games in the minors and majors combined that year. He actually hit well when available, but his health situation cost him severely. Frazier would have had a legitimate chance to take Brett Gardner’s job by the end of 2018. Remember, Gardy struggled mightily toward the end of ’18, which would have been the perfect opportunity for Clint to take the reigns. Alas.
2019 should have been a clean slate for Frazier, but of course it didn’t work out that way. Fielding was the big issue, of course. Frankly, his play in the outfield was horrific. To be fair though, who knows how grounded he felt in the field? It’s pure speculation, but the fear of suffering another concussion may have affected him. Now, he was not supposed to be some superb defender in the first place. Rather, no one anticipated him being perhaps the worst in the league. That leads me to believe that he was timid following his health scares in 2018. I think that’s understandable.
Even though it appears that Frazier may be out of luck already in 2020, it unfortunately could get worse. If you’re really pessimistic and think no baseball will be played this year, what happens to Clint’s lone remaining minor league option? This is the sort of thing the league is trying to sort out with the players’ union. I’m sure at some point this season, even if he started the year in the majors, the Yankees would have exhausted his last option. That means he’d have had a chance with the Yankees or a new club in 2021. But if there’s no season, does that last option survive for 2021? That would mean potentially another stint in Triple-A. Oof.
Again, the crummy situation Clint is in doesn’t compare to what the world is going through right now. Still, it really stinks for him. He finally seemed to have a real chance to play this season, even if it was a result of losing two of the Yankees’ best players in Judge and Stanton. Now, who knows when Frazier will get his next chance to prove himself at the highest level.