Weekly Mailbag: Tauchman vs. Frazier, a Surprising Trade Proposal, and My Favorite Pitcher on the Tr
Wow, our readers are definitely in trade mode – a bunch of questions about trades this week, and rightfully so, given that the trade deadline is just a few days away. In this week’s mailbag, we’ll talk about Tauchman vs. Frazier, a surprising trade proposal, and my favorite pitcher on the trade market. Let’s get at it:
Bob asks: I realize this will be difficult to do, but could you speculate/spitball the contributions that Tauchman has provided (on offense plus defense) in a reserve outfielder role vs. what Clint Frazier might have provided in a similar role? It seems to me that Tauchman has been the better overall player and that his defense has been particularly important to the Yankees recent success. I still believe Frazier will be an excellent player for this team in the near future but it seems that having Tauchman on the roster is the right move right now. I wonder, however, if there is any way to quantify that.
Tauchman has been something of a revelation for the Yankees these past few weeks, hasn’t he? In addition to being able to play good defense all over the outfield, Tauchman has been scorching hot at the plate in an admittedly small sample size. Since Tauchman was called up to play in London, he has hit .447/.512/.763 in 43 plate appearances. Obviously, those are video game numbers that are completely unsustainable over the long-run, but this streak still happened. Overall, Tauchman has been worth 1.9 bWAR/1.2 fWAR thus far this season (the separation in Baseball Reference’s calculation vs. Fangraphs’ comes down to their evaluation of defense).
Clint Frazier, on the other hand, has only been worth 0.4 bWAR/0.3 fWAR due to his horrific defensive play in the outfield, and particularly in RF. While I initially preferred to see Frazier get regular reps at the big league level, I understand and agree with sending him down to AAA in order to get needed everyday reps since they are now unavailable in New York.
We could simply end the evaluation by simply looking at WAR totals, but I don’t think that fully accounts for the last month of baseball. Tauchman’s torrid stretch of plate appearances accounts for roughly 25% of his total for the season. Small sample sizes have a way of throwing overall numbers out of whack in such a way that I believe the current gap between Tauchman and Frazier in a reserve role would be far greater. In this short stretch, Tauchman has been worth an unbelievable 1 WAR (very roughly, looking at the metrics at both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference). In a 43 plate appearance stretch, let’s say that Frazier plays even slightly better than his numbers on the year, posting 125 wRC+ (vs. 117 wRC+ on the current season). If Frazier has even a couple of games like the series he had in Boston last month, Frazier’s overall value would take a huge hit. Defensive metrics are notoriously volatile in small samples, and a few bad games defensively would tank Frazier’s value for that small stretch, likely making him less valuable than a replacement player in a reserve role even if he is 25% better than average over a 43 plate appearance sample.
Frazier can still have a great career ahead of him, but Tauchman fits the roster far better right now, and he is significantly more valuable than Frazier in a reserve role.
Lionel asks: assuming that the Yanks can’t find a team willing to deal an ace or a near ace at reasonable terms, what do you think of the idea of spending their trade assets on a younger and better shortstop than Didi, f’instance Lindor?
granted that Cleveland has to hate the idea of trading him, even knowing that they are going to lose him to free agency because they haven’t the money to pay him, but what would the Yankees have to give up to get him?
would Cleveland take Andujar, Frazier and a younger outfield prospect along with Loaisiga or Garcia? or is there another high-quality shortstop who might be available?
This one took me by surprise. The idea of letting Didi walk and acquiring a shortstop with the Yankees’ prospect capital seemed crazy to me at first, but despite my noted affinity for Didi Gregorius (I hope he’s a Yankee for the rest of his career), from a pure numbers perspective, there is validity to the idea.
Realistically, Didi is a Free Agent after the season, and he will hit the market as a 30-year-old shortstop. In all likelihood, Didi is now on the back-end of his prime during which he has been just shy of elite, generally peaking as a 3-5 WAR player during that time. Didi was a late bloomer who didn’t get a ton of playing time when he was in his early 20s, so it’s possible his peak will extend a bit further, but even with my rose colored glasses, signing Didi to a long-term extension does have some risk (again, a risk that I would take).
Francisco Lindor is an elite, young, cheap shortstop. There is no arguing Lindor’s ability at age 25, and he is under team control through 2022. Acquiring a guy like Lindor, if available, would make a ton of sense. Who better to replace Didi with than a guy who is even better than Didi from a value perspective in his prime?
In all likelihood, the Indians would not trade Lindor. Unless the Indians do a complete tear-down, I can’t see them trading a fan favorite, perennial All-Star like Lindor. That said, the Yankees do have enough prospect and player capital to make a deal enticing.
Lionel’s trade proposal above feels very light for a player like Lindor. Loaisiga and Andujar have seen their trade values take a hit due to injuries, so the Yankees would need to beef up their offer significantly. I think that it would take a farm system emptying trade to even get the Indians to entertain the conversation.
I gave my best trade proposal a shot using the Baseball Trade Values Trade Simulator, and the trade was rejected. I tried trading Andujar, Frazier, Florial, and Garcia for Lindor. While I believe that would be enough to get the Indians talking, I think that the simulator is right: trading for Lindor would be a tall task.
It is fun to dream about a shortstop like Lindor, but I don’t think trading for someone like that is a likely possibility. Personally, I’m plenty happy with Didi and Torres at short for the next few years.
Ron asks: If you were the Yankees, which pitcher would you trade for?
I talked about this a fair amount on this week’s Bronx Beat Podcast (give it a listen, there were a lot of interesting perspectives on the guys on the starting pitching market), but I’ll give an overview of my opinion here.
My two favorite targets for the Yankees are Noah Syndergaard and Mike Minor. I don’t think that Syndergaard has any chance of winding up in pinstripes due to the ridiculous way that the Mets’ ownership group operates, but his stuff is unbelievable, and I think he would be perfect with the Yankees. Realistically, since Syndergaard won’t wind up a Yankee, I think Mike Minor is actually the perfect pickup for the Yanks.
Mike Minor has been the best pitcher in baseball this season, posting 5.9 bWAR, while posting his typically strong K% and BB%. Minor has experience pitching in big markets, having pitched for both Texas and LA, so he will not shrink under the lights of NY. He also has one other very important bit of experience: Minor has pitched out of the bullpen in the recent past. In a playoff series, in which the Yankees could conceivably piggyback starters or use an opener, Minor would be comfortable starting or relieving. Minor would also be around next year with one year remaining on his contract. Minor’s stellar results and versatility are assets that would be costly, but worthwhile. I have trouble really pinpointing Minor’s value on the trade market right now, but I would be willing to sacrifice the top of the farm system to acquire his services. Clint Frazier and Deivi Garcia would likely go in a trade like this, but I think it would be worth it. Minor could be the missing piece to a championship puzzle.
That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading, enjoy the Boston series (assuming last night was a fluke), and I’ll see you next week – keep those questions coming!