The Future of Frazier

It wasn’t so long ago, cosmically speaking, that Clint Frazier was going to be a Guy for the New York Yankees. But that short time is a long time as baseball moves and now Canal Street Clint is in Bronx Limbo, likely destined to be just a guy. 

Despite stretches of success, Frazier was a non-factor for the Yankees once Brett Gardner returned from injury. His defensive deficiencies, especially when compared to Mike Tauchman’s skill with the glove, buried him further, making his trip on the Scranton Shuttle essentially one way.  

The not-as-young-as-he-used-to-be outfielder and the Yankees are at a crossroads; but even with the 26-man roster and the injury to Aaron Hicks, it’s hard to see a bench role for Frazier. Such a role would limit the effectiveness of his bat and his defense falls too far short. 

The chances of a starting role are even smaller. In Dr. Strange fashion, I really only see one scenario in which Frazier has a starting job in the Bronx to start 2020: Miguel Andujar can’t yet play so Gio Urshela starts at third while Giancarlo Stanton plays DH and Frazier plays left, having beaten out Tauchman for the role. That scenario is loaded for bear with “if” and the chances of it happening are, scientifically, statistically speaking…not great. Any other situation is equally unlikely and equally heavily dependent on injuries and other circumstances. Even if Gardner gets hurt–more likely given his age–Frazier can’t play center field, and neither can either of the corner outfielders to open up a spot for him. 

As loathe as I am to say it–having been a great fan of Clint’s since the Yankees acquired him from Cleveland–the best path for both parties is likely a trade. What can the Yankees get for him? I don’t know and my trade proposal would suck anyway. What should the Yankees trade him for? If we as outsiders can recognize how muddled his future is, you can be damn sure the insiders know it. Despite whatever is actual value or potential value is, other teams can and will use the Yankees’ (in)action around Frazier to drive down his worth in a trade. He’s likely not a headliner anymore, but maybe he could be an extra piece in something? Francisco Lindor, if we wanna squint real hard and dream real big? Whatever the best time to trade Frazier was, it has likely passed the Yankees by. Such is (baseball) life.

Back in 2016, it was hard to see this as the ending for Clint Frazier’s Yankee tenure, but in the meantime, things happened. Aaron Judge turned into one of the best players in baseball. Brett Gardner didn’t fall off a cliff (and even had a career year in 2019). Frazier suffered concussions and other injuries. Things changed as did Clint’s future. If I’m wrong about this, I’ll be thrilled–Clint seems like a good person to root for. If I’m not, I hope he finds success elsewhere.

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9 Comments

  1. Don Arsenault

    Clint has one of the fastest swings in baseball and his fielding has improved tremendously, I see him as a future star when the Yankees trade him.
    His career would be a lot simpler playing away from the big Apple and I see a great career for him in the future. You will not find a harder worker and we all wish him a continued successful career.
    Don Arsenault
    Atlanta, Ga.

  2. TimS

    I’m a big fan of Clint but I can completely see where a trade would benefit him. Let him get consistent major league at-bats every day and let’s see if he can mash as a starter (I think he can). Another year shuttling between Scranton and NY (or just getting stuck in Scranton) is a waste of talent and not fair to the player.

    With that, I agree his value isn’t high right now so perhaps he has more value as a depth piece than whatever the open market would bring. Or perhaps he will have more value mid-season at the trade deadline. Answering questions like these are why Cashman makes the big bucks.

    As Wire Fan noted, the Yankees really do not have a lot of OF depth, and most likely they are going to need Frazier at some point. In 2019, every OF (Hicks, Stanton, Judge, Maybin, Tauchman, Gardner, and for that matter Frazier) went on the IL at least once (and we all know how many games Stanton and Hicks missed). It would be great if everybody is healthy in 2020 (though we already know Hicks is out until at least June, so already everybody is not healthy) so that’s not a good bet, especially with everybody a year older.

    And in term of who begins the year starting in LF, yes I know Stanton is a superior defender, but there is no certainty he can do it everyday. Even in 2018 (when Stanton carried the team offensively for a good chunk of time), he actually started more games as DH (85) than in the OF (72). Remember he was a nursing a bad hamstring the second half of that year but to his credit he kept going out there. But the reality is that in his two years in a Yankees uniform he has not been full healthy for a full season (again full credit for what he did in 2018, but he would have been even more useful if he could have played the OF more often).

    I like watching him play so I hope he wins a spot on the roster out of spring training – with his bat, if he can play passable defense in LF then I think there is definitely a place for him on this team to get meaningful ABs.

  3. Mungo

    I’ve watched too much baseball to assume anything in December. Frazier can still be an impact player for the Yankees, and I’m not as convinced the Yankees intend to trade him. They had the perfect opportunity over the summer when reports indicate the Blue Jays would have sent Stroman for Frazier. We also heard the D’backs would send Ray for Frazier. Yankees refused both. That doesn’t sound like a team hellbent on trading him.

    • RetroRob

      Mostly agreed. This is not you, but I understand why many fans think the Yankees should move Frazier because they don’t see a clear spot for him to play, and they think it’s more “fair” to him. Fairness is not part of the equation. He’s an asset. The Yankees have one more year of control where they can bounce him up and down and use as needed. That’s exactly what they will and should do unless they get a trade offer to their liking. Right now he remains a talented hitter with significant upside. That’s not something to give away.

  4. Wire Fan

    The idea that Stanton,who is an above average corner OF, should predominantly DH has somehow taken on a life of its own. He hurt himself last year swinging the bat and later on, running the bases. Sure you can get hurt in the OF, but it is not like climbing Mount Everest.

    Any scenario where Frazier is the regular starting LF with a healthy Stanton DHing most days is ridiculous.

    That said, given the injury risks to pretty much every OF not named Tauchman, the Yankees should not trade Frazier. He and Granite (CF), are the only OF depth right now, and I guess Wade?

    • RetroRob

      I suspect the Yankees aren’t looking at a full-time DH, but would rather use their overall depth and have a rotational DH. It keeps everyone rested and doesn’t restrict the roster by having one of 25 players (uhh, now 26). I expect we’ll see Stanton play at least half of his games in the OF, split between left and right. The biggest challenge will be figuring out where to slot Andujar in this type of rotation.

  5. Section8

    Unless they have deemed Frazier completely unplayable in LF, there are plenty of scenarios where he has a meaningful role on opening day. Even if everyone is healthy and ready, Clint is 27th man, with a bench of Tauchman, Higgy, Wade or Estrada, and Ford (assuming Stanton LF, Miggy DH). So just one injury to an OF or DH, and maybe even 1B (Ford starts) or 3B (Miggy starts there) and there are at-bats for Frazier

  6. Erc

    I’d imagine that Frazier would be more likely to DH, and Giancarlo to play LF, than the other way around.

  7. Erc

    Giancarlo is a better defensive LF than Frazier. I’d imagine that he’d get the bulk of the time in the OF, and Frazier at DH.

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