To Keep or Not to Keep: Clint Frazier
by Ethan Semendinger
July 22nd, 2021
Over the next month as we begin to approach the 2021 Trade Deadline season, Ethan will be taking you through most of the Yankees MLB talent (including those on the IL) and his give opinions on what he would do if he ran the team and on what the Yankees will likely do.
Today we’ll be discussing Clint Frazier.
MLB Postseason/Division/WS Odds for the New York Yankees (2021): Preseason: Fangraphs – 91.3%/71.0%/17.5% BBRef – 84.0%/63.1%/11.8% 538 – 83%/60%/14% On June 14th: Fangraphs – 44.5%/14.4%/5.7% BBRef – 19.3%/0.9%/0.8% 538 – 37%/8%/3%#Yankees #StartSpreadingtheNews — Start Spreading The News (@NYY_Report) June 14, 2021
Understanding This Series:
At the beginning of this series, the Yankees currently sit with a 33-32 record, are 4th in the AL East (8.5 GB of the Rays), and are 6th in the AL Wild Card race (4 GB of the Astros). If they want to win 93 games this season (what they’d likely need for a wild card spot) they’ll have to play .618 baseball, a winning percentage of which just 2 teams (Rays and White Sox) are currently playing at. In this series we’re not believing that the Yankees, under their current roster construction and self-inflicted restrictions, have a shot at the playoffs. Thus, we’re looking at the 2021 Trade Deadline as a place to sell and to look towards 2022 and the future for this team.
Clint Frazier Background:
For one of the first times in my years as a Yankees fan the Yankees were a selling team at the trade deadline, and while they weren’t winning they were still exciting the fanbase. One big name they received back in a trade was an outfielder by the name of Clint Frazier. A Top-50 MLB prospect with legendary bat speed and a personality.
And then the Yankees and injuries screwed him up. Completely.
One of the most emotionally demanding things in professional baseball is to be right on the cusp of the MLB and being continuously called up, demoted, and recalled from the minors. It’s hard to keep track of how many times the Yankees have done this to Frazier (on a rough count it has been about 10 times), and the combined 228 games since 2017 is a large indication that the Yankees refuse to believe in him.
The Yankees also seemed refused to support Frazier after the media almost immediately took aim at him over a comment about wanting to wear the number 7. What should have been a very minor thing became a legitimate story and the Yankees were nowhere to be found to support their premier prospect back in 2017. More of the so-called “controversies” with Frazier have come up over the years and it never seems like the Yankees are there for his support.
Now to be fair to the Yankees, since being acquired in 2016 Cint Frazier has been on the DL/IL 6 separate times. Of which this includes 2 times for concussions in 2018 which kept him out for essentially that entire season. (And may also have had some effect on his current vertigo diagnosis.) Unfortunately, Frazier hasn’t been truly healthy for a sustained period during his time with the Yankees.
And to be fair to Clint Frazier, during the 2020 season he did have his best year in the MLB (to-date) with a .267/.394/.511 (.905 OPS; 149 OPS+)…though again due to a combination of the Yankees not wanting to try him, this happened over just 39 games. (An incredibly small sample size.) It should also go to say that his placing 3rd for AL Left Fielders for the Gold Glove was definitely not warranted. Frazier yet to show confidence in his fielding.
Overall, Clint Frazier has produced to a career 104 OPS+ and 0.2 bWAR since 2017 and a 109 OPS+ and 0.3 bWAR from 2019-2021. He’s just not the player the Yankees hoped they got back in 2016.
What I’d Do and What the Yankees Will Do:
With 3 years under arbitration remaining after this season (Frazier is a Super-Two player) and one option remaining, there is still value that Frazier holds for a rebuilding club looking for a reclamation project on offense. However (and as I stated in my article about Miguel Andujar) as a whole Yankees fans tend to overvalue him far too much.
Clint Frazier may be a serviceable outfielder and can be an above-average hitter. However, the lengthy injury history (especially with his current vertigo diagnosis and past concussions) is incredibly frightening when considering how it affects trade value.
Fortunate or not, the best place for Frazier is with the Yankees.
This year alone (not counting 2020, 2019, 2018, etc.) has shown that the Yankees need to have a stockpile of outfielders ready to go. Clint Frazier is a player that can fit that portfolio quite well. (Heck, they recently started a game with an outfield of Ryan LaMarre, Greg Allen, and Trey Amburgey.)
I also believe that if he has been trying to play (unsuccessfully) through vertigo then it should only mean that he’s primed to return to being the above-average hitter he was (when given a shot) in the past. I’ve been high on Frazier for a long while and truly believe that he can tap into All-Star potential if given a chance.
For the Yankees the best move is to keep him around.
For Frazier the best move may be getting traded to a team (lets say the Diamondbacks) that would be willing to consistently use him.
To me, the smart move is to keep him, though as a fan of Frazier’s ability it does bother me that his shots have been limited.