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There Is No Reason to Trade Clint Frazier At the Trade Deadline!

Across many different media outlets relating to the Yankees and/or the MLB in general, pundits and analysts are pushing the idea that Clint Frazier could (and should) be traded at the 2020 Trade Deadline. Ethan Semendinger makes the point today for the Yankees not to do so.

 

Embed from Getty Images This is what Clint Frazier will do to people who want him traded.

The Quick Background of his Way to New York:

Coming into the 2013 MLB First Year Player Draft, Clint Frazier was seen as one of the top draftable players, ranking 4th according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. He was drafted out of Loganville High School (Loganville, GA) by the Cleveland Indians with the 5th pick. That same year he was already on the MLB.com Top 100 prospects list at #51. He would move up to #44 at the end of the 2014 season, and up to #35 at the end of the 2015 season.

The Indians had a budding star outfielder on their hands in Frazier, but even as his game progressed he was falling in favorability. The Indians used their 1st pick in the 2014 Draft to take outfielder Bradley Zimmer 21st Overall, the 2nd time in 2 years they took an OF in the 1st Round. After just one full season in 2015 Zimmer was already ranked a better prospect (#26) than Frazier (#35).

They would end up being ranked #26 and #27 by MLB.com coming into the 2016 season with Zimmer on top, and most other publications had the difference much more favorable for Zimmer (#12 to #41 by 2080Baseball; #23 to #53 by BaseballProspectus). This made Frazier more expendable and at the 2016 Trade Deadline the Indians packed him with Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller, and J.P Feyersien to the Yankees for Andrew Miller.

 

An Interesting MLB Career (Thus Far):

I don’t know if it is necessarily fair to suggest that the Yankees have or have not messed with Clint Frazier during his development. Frazier was a very hyped prospect and helped to push himself into the MLB quickly starting in 2017. However, his career and yearly numbers have always seemed to disappoint upon looking back.

His MLB debut in 2017 was met with a lot of fanfare and expectations for how he would perform, and he did start off how with a HR in his first game. He stayed hot through his month ending with a .270/.298/.539 triple-slash with 4 HR’s, but his lack of walks (4) was concerning. This showed at seasons end- after going back to the minors in early August until mid-September- with a season-ending triple-slash of .231/.268/.448. He had an obvious part of his game to improve.

Unfortunately for Frazier, the 2018 season started with a concussion at the end of March that ended up being a saga that spanned the entire season, ultimately ending on the 60-day DL in mid-September. He managed just 69 games on the season with 15 at the MLB level. However, he was able to improve his walk rate in his limited gameplay, ending with 27 walks in the minors (over 54 games) and another 5 in 15 games in the MLB.

The 2019 season was completely unfortunate for Clint Frazier, who got called up early in the season for the 5th game and stuck around until the 70th- save for 2 weeks on the IL with a left ankle sprain. During the three month time with consistent playing in the MLB, Frazier showed what he could do, hitting to a .283/.330/.513 triple-slash at the middle of June. However, the Yankees needed to make room as they were getting other players under MLB contracts back from injury. When he returned, he hit just .176 in the month of September and tanked his overall numbers to a .267/.317/.489 triple-slash. It’s why I said that Frazier’s numbers seem to disappoint, but looking deep you should understand how good he is.

Obviously I haven’t mentioned the defensive issues, which were a big point of talk during the 2019 season, and have gotten many posts of their own that it isn’t worth it to look into now.

And now that we’re in the 2020 season, again Clint Frazier was left off the starting team on Opening Day and has found himself back in the thick of it with getting back to the MLB. And, so far- it’s only 8 games- he has looked much better at the plate and in the field. I don’t want to take too much out of such a small sample size, but if the normal day-to-day Clint Frazier plays close to this level he is a player that the Yankees need to have starting in the future.

 

Embed from Getty Images The Yankees need to keep this quick bat in the Bronx.

Looking to the Future (a.k.a. Why Frazier is Essential):

There are a couple important things to note about Clint Frazier’s contract statuses at this time. The first is that the Yankees used his last option year this year, which means that he will have to be DFA’ed and pass through waivers if a team elects to send him to the minors. With a player like Frazier he would never pass through waivers, so he requires a spot on an MLB roster going forward to prevent his loss for nothing.

The other important thing to note is that Frazier is going to be a 4-time arbitration eligible player, starting in the 2021 season, setting his free agency back until the 2024-2025 offseason, or before he enters his age 30 season. That’s a lot of control over a player, and his arbitration years are likely going to be skewed low given his limited playing time in the MLB thus far, which will reflect during his negotiations at the end of this season. His first year arbitration contract will dictate the following years salary greatly. Mike Axisa of RiverAveBlues put this perfectly when detailing Luis Severino’s arbitration case in 2019, stating,

“Severino filed for a $5.25M salary with the league. The Yankees countered with $4.4M. That is an $850,000 gap. It doesn’t sound like much, and I guess it isn’t, but remember arbitration raises are based on the previous year’s salary. That $850,000 difference this year means several million dollars are on the line during Severino’s four arbitration years as a Super Two. If Severino wins, his base salaries are higher going forward, which equals more total dollars.” -Mike Axisa

However, the most important thing to look at with Clint Frazier and his future with the Yankees is the team around him. On one hand the Yankees outfield looks crowded on the corners with Giancarlo Stanton (LF) and Aaron Judge (RF), but since the Yankees acquired Stanton in 2018 that outfield alignment has happened just 39.5 times. Broken down like this:

2018 = 32.5 times (+1)

• (+1) – On 3/31 Aaron Judge played CF, Stanton in RF.

• .5 – On 9/23 Stanton started in RF, Judge subbed in at RF in the 8th moving Stanton to LF.

2019 = 7 times (+4)

• (+4) – From the 3 2019 ALDS games against the Minnesota Twins and the first game of the 2019 ALCS against the Houston Astros.

Stanton has essentially be designated to the DH role by the Yankees which opened up the LF spot. That is currently occupied by Brett Gardner, but he should not be returning in 2021, opening it up completely.

While this may seem to take away a spot from Mike Tauchman by giving a starting role to Frazier in 2021, consistent playing time even as the primary 4th OF shouldn’t be hard to find. Tauchman would be the primary CF back-up to Aaron Hicks with Gardner gone and given how often Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks get injured.

Clint Frazier is a player that the Yankees need to keep and will be extremely important to have as an asset going forward.

 

Article By: Ethan Semendinger

Date Published: August 26th, 2020

#ClintFrazier

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