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.