Clint Frazier is stuck between a rock, a hard place and Triple-A

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I don’t envy Clint Frazier’s current predicament.

I mean, I envy most other things about Clint: His cats, his crazy-good hair and his ability to mash taters with the best of them. Those are tremendous pets/qualities to have.

But Frazier is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, in need of time to develop parts of his game, yet having more than enough talent to contribute in the Major Leagues for all 30 teams.

I’ll emphasize that again: Frazier can play for all 30 MLB teams right now. On the 25-man roster. Over 209 plate appearances this year, he’s hit .283/.330/.513 with 11 home runs and a 117 wRC+, and he’s likely just scratching the surface. For some, like the Yankees, he’d be an overqualified fourth outfielder, but he’d be an MLB player.

Yet he’s in Triple-A right now. I don’t know if Scranton is nice this time of year, but I’m sure he’d prefer New York for the obvious professional and lifestyle reasons. Frazier, though, has to fix his glove and doesn’t have the time in the Majors to do it.

The Yankees stand in the middle of a pennant chase. One may even consider them the favorites despite a slow start to the second half. Whether it was his shaky defense in Kansas City or his butchered flyballs against Boston, Frazier hasn’t made even the basic defensive plays look easy. He is second-to-last in baseball with a -11 Outs Above Average by Statcast.

Frazier has had the chance to work on his craft in the Minor Leagues, working with Julio Borbon and the Scranton-WB staff, and he’s already showing signs of improvement.

Ideally, for a player of his ilk, he’d have the chance to play every day while working with the MLB staff. The Edwin Encarnacion trade eliminated that chance as Frazier can’t even get the everyday DH at-bats that would keep in in the Majors. With Aarons Hicks and Judge as well as the age-defying Brett Gardner, the Yankees’ have a full outfield.

Many of you understandably want Frazier to be the fourth outfielder over Mike Tauchman, but that doesn’t do him or the Yankees much good. If he’s going to step into the lineup in 2020, you don’t want him having squandered much of the second half as a bench bat with 8-10 plate appearances a week, yet you do want him in the Majors, getting reps. That dichotomy defines why he’s in such a difficult position.

Instead, Tauchman makes the better bench player. The Yankees aren’t as concerned about his development — or trade value — and his glove makes him more than playable at all three positions. His light-hitting bat is much derided, but he produces enough to justify his roster spot.

And that leaves Frazier stuck in Scranton until a trade, injury or a new season frees him up. His relationship with the team appears at a low from the outside, though his talent and what the Yankees would bring in return should dictate whether or not the team deals him, not a supposed attitude problem that has been entirely overblown.

Unfortunately for him, Frazier may have a tough time breaking through in 2020 as well. Gardner might be back on a one-year deal and Judge, Hicks and Stanton aren’t going anywhere, limiting even the DH at-bats when Encarnacion is bought out. Even if Gardner isn’t back, the Yankees may yet find a bargain for a fourth outfielder.

Frazier is still young, turning 25 in September, but he deserves Major League playing time before long. His bat works in any lineup and could one day earn him a spot in the All-Star Game. Whether that appearance, or even his next MLB stint, comes with the Yankees remains unclear, and it’s not his fault. Sometimes, those are just the breaks you get.

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9 Comments

  1. RABADDICT

    How can anyone argue with Clint’s numbers in 2019?!! IMO the Clint hate is a direct result of a large percentage of his haters not being accepted with the “cool kids” in school or sports so they resent any athlete who can express themselves in ways they will never have the confidence to! How about some tolerance and compassion for a 25 yr old who LOVES being a Yankee!! Mark my words, if we let Clint go for a rental, it will be one of the most painful trades since Fred McGriff! Especially with the juiced ball!

  2. RetroRob

    I can see a very likely scenario Frazier is on the 2020 Yankees. For one, this is his last option year. Unless the Yankees trade him, he will be on the 2020 team. That means there is incentive to hold him down now to gain another year of control. They also may want to fully assess Tauchman as a 2020 option as the 4th/5th OFer.

    Here’s how it would work: The Yankees let Gardner leave and save $8.5M. Judge, HIcks and Stanton form the starting OF, with Clint serving as the DH/rotating with Stanton in LF. Tauchman then is the defensive OFer on the bench. The Yankees save money, and have a very strong five-man OF unit.

    If this is their plan, then they really do want to see how Tauchman performs. They know Clint can hit. They want him to work on his defense in AAA, gain a year of control, and assess Tachman on the MLB level.

    This doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t trade Clint. They might, but I don’t believe that’s their goal, especially since there are no top-flight pitchers available.

  3. Dan A.

    I really think he’s down for off the field attitude reasons. If he was Aaron Judge in the clubhouse, he’s be up over Tauchman. For now, the poor Fielding is a convenient excuse for keeping him away.

    • RetroRob

      What is he like in the club house? All indications are that the other players like him.

  4. michael serra

    I agree, James. Comments like Dan left are really uncalled for, mean and the reason we (as Yankee fans) get the “entitled”/”jerk”/”never satisfied” labels put on us. Frazier definitely is not as terrible a fielder as Dan and the media hype him up to be. Still 24 and has plenty of potential to get better in the field.

  5. twifffy

    He is major league ready, that’s why the Yankees should hold on to him this year. He is one more injury away from being needed on a championship level team. There are 42 games until rosters expand on Sep 1st. If he works on his defense and says the right things then he will he well suited to contribute in the pennant race.

  6. YankeeManDan

    It is his fault. Why, at 25, with a lifetime of playing baseball, is he still such garbage in the field? He’s a professional athlete, if he can’t figure out how to play outfield by now then ship him out. You can’t tell me that he cares about getting better if he still hasn’t gotten it

    • James

      This is a rough comment, brother. Ah yes, at the age of 25 everyone who considers themselves a professional should be elite at every aspect of their job. I’m sure at 25 you were a refined and incredible employee with no blemishes or mistakes

      I guess we should trade andujar too? Or Didi and Gleyber, who make countless mistakes on the basepaths – they’re professionals so they shouldn’t make such blunders!

      No player is perfect, and the best players in the world are constantly working on their craft no matter how much success they’ve had. Clint isn’t as bad of a fielder as he showed earlier this year (it was between the ears if you want my opinion), he’s not going to be gardner either, but he still has to time to become serviceable in a corner which would allow his bat to really play.

    • Your a Looser Trader FotD

      TROLLOLLOLLOOLLOOLL. Dude, RAB shut down and garbage comments like this perched the site atop the slippery slope. Don’t be that guy.

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