On Losing: Clint Frazier
In the aftermath of the 40-Man Roster crunch from last Friday, the Yankees designated three players for assignment. The Yankees now have until this upcoming Friday to trade these players, and if not they’ll become unrestricted free agents.
Of those three DFA’ed players, the Yankees announced on Tuesday that they have released Clint Frazier.
The Yankees have released OF Clint Frazier and INF Rougned Odor. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) November 23, 2021
What Did the Yankees Lose?
Clint Frazier was acquired by the New York Yankees during the 2016 trade deadline in a trade with the Cleveland Indians, sending LHP Andrew Miller for a prospect package headlined by LHP Justus Sheffield and OF Clint Frazier. Sheffield only pitched 2.2 innings for the Yankees but was a major part in a good trade with the Seattle Mariners for LHP James Paxton. In Seattle, Sheffield- who is still just entering his age-26 season- has not played well to a tune of a combined -0.9 bWAR and a -1.8 bWAR in 2021. But, I digress.
In 5 seasons (2016-2021) with the New York Yankees Clint Frazier put up a .239/.327/.434 triple-slash (.761 OPS/104 OPS+) with 29 Home Runs and 97 RBI’s. Clint Frazier also managed to play in just 228 games over those 5 seasons due to the Yankees using him as a journeyman in 2017 and 2018, and him suffering from concussions/vertigo since a horrible outfield collision with the wall at the end of 2018.
Now, 2021 was an absolutely horrible season for Clint Frazier as he put up a -1.4 bWAR of his own around a triple-slash of .186/.317/.317 (.633 OPS/76 OPS+). So, it should be no surprise that Frazier went on the 10-Day IL for vertigo in July, and then on the 60-Day IL in August.
However, 2020 was a fantastic season for Frazier. He avoided any injuries and he hit to a .267/.394/.511 triple-slash (.905 OPS/150 OPS+) while also nearly playing his way to a Gold Glove. He put up +1.8 bWAR in just 39 games.
But, which Clint Frazier should be expected going forward?
Baseball-Reference projections put Frazier at a .236/.332/.413 (.746 OPS). Fangraphs projects Frazier at .236/.325/.425 (.750 OPS). Each projects about 60-70 games played for Frazier next season. At a rate that was projected at $2.4 Million for his 2nd year of arbitration, that level of play would suffice, but ultimately the number of games would not.
Clint Frazier was a prospect with tremendous promise for the Yankees. He was a Top-25 prospect going into 2017 and he immediately made a showing at the MLB level, hitting a Home Run in his debut (though the Yankees would lose the game). For years there were two things we heard about Frazier:
Legendary Bat Speed.
Since becoming a Yankee in 2016, Clint Frazier had 6 different stints on the IL, with 4 of them from concussions or vertigo. There is a good reason as to why, over 5 seasons in the MLB, Frazier managed to play in just 228 games (or 32%). And all of it is a shame.
Clint Frazier had an energy that the current Yankees really don’t have. Clint Frazier was fun. Clint Frazier had a fire, an aura, a “look at me” vibe around him. Clint Frazier truly did have that legendary bat speed. Clint Frazier would also dive to make plays in the outfield…as they would end up going past him. But, we could have dealt with a bad glove and a decent arm.
Clint Frazier was going to be a monster on offense. Just give him this year. And next. And then the year after that. Unfortunately, it never materialized long enough. As I showed, he did put up solid statistics but he wasn’t able to play.
Clint Frazier deserved better from the New York Yankees. I think they toyed with his development in 2017 and 2018 when the Yankees were begging for offensive help in the outfield. Now in 2021, it got to become too late for Frazier.
It’s hard to justify keeping around a player who isn’t giving you innings anymore. Clint Frazier will find a place to go and play in 2022. He still has a ton of promise…if a team can help him get over his concussions and vertigo. (It can be done, but it’s also a long and slow process. I see this stuff every day in physical therapy.)
It was time to say goodbye to Clint.
I wish him all the best in what he chooses to do. He was certainty fun to watch when we could.Embed from Getty Images