A key contributor to the 2017 New York Yankees playoff run, Todd Frazier, is still on the market and it’s time to answer why that’s still the case.
With just 40 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, Todd Frazier, the leader of the New York Yankees’ “Thumbs Down” movement, is still a free agent.
Frazier’s “Thumbs Down” became an instant hit after an internet meme was created from a Yankees broadcast that captured a Met fan giving Frazier a thumbs down after a three-run home run against the Rays at Citi Field, to which the team, and its fans, used it as a rallying cry for the remainder of the season.
Frazier was not just the tough guy from Jersey, however. Frazier hit 27 home runs, drove in 76 runs, and hit .213 in 2017. His numbers with the Yankees were .222/.365/.423, with 11 homers and 32 RBI.
The stat line is not eye-popping, but his defense sure was, as well as the presence he had in the locker room during the Yankees’ postseason push.
Despite the positives that come with Frazier, he’s probably in the middle of shoveling himself out after the Bomb Cyclone in Toms River, not knowing where he’ll play in 2018. Here’s why:
1. Todd Frazier loves the Yankees:
Did you know Todd Frazier is from Toms River and met Derek Jeter after winning the Little League World Series?
Frazier was all smiles when the Yankees traded for him. He mentioned several times that he’d make the 85-mile trip from Yankee Stadium back down to Toms River after games, and he seemed totally okay with it.
He was a lifelong fan fulfilling his dream. If he wasn’t so in love with playing in the Bronx, he’d probably be elsewhere right now. But his love for the Yankees has been coming with a cost.
2. The Yankees don’t necessarily even need him:
Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are coming. Torres is the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, and Andujar saw some playing time in the big leagues last year. The Yankees feel that they both could be full-time players very soon if they aren’t already. Another perk for Torres and Andujar that hurts Frazier is…
3. The Yankees would save a lot of money:
There hasn’t been much of a dollar-sign reported in any talks involving Frazier, but an annual eight-figure deal seems to be the most likely. Torres and Andujar once brought up to the majors, would only make the Major League minimum of $545,000.
4. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and more might be on the way:
While the Yankees said after trading for Giancarlo Stanton that they were not finished, they have been sitting tight since the Winter Meetings. Re-signing Frazier most likely would not kill the Yankees’ payroll or hurt them in the luxury tax, but there are a few (soon-to-be very wealthy) guys that the Yankees have their eye on for 2019.
Despite acquiring the expensive reigning National League MVP, the Yankees also got rid of Chase Headley‘s and Starlin Castro‘s contracts, thus essentially upping their 2018 payroll only by $2 million. On top of that, The Yankees also shed $41.4 million while also losing the contracts of Matt Holliday, Michael Pineda, and (finally) Alex Rodriguez in free agency.
The Yankees also saved $15 million for this season by signing CC Sabathia to a one-year, $10 million deal, as compared to the $25 million he made last year.
There is no exact payroll number just yet, as arbitration hearings have not begun (Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Sonny Gray, Kahnle, Austin Romine, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren will all be eligible for arbitration). However, in total, the Yankees paid everyone that they owed in 2017 a total of $238,538,244 in base salary, according to Sportrac.
With all the deals and money saved up to this point, using 2017 salaries (again, no arbitration yet), the Yankees would pay $178,967,548 to whoever they owe; that’s close to $50 million saved.
The Yankees will continue to have more money to spend, and they can afford Frazier without going over the tax threshold, but they want that money to go elsewhere.
With the reasons above, it’s looking like less of a possibility that Frazier will remain in pinstripes, but simultaneously, the Yankees would be missing out on a huge clubhouse boost that they are already very familiar with, and who knows if that is a risk they are willing to take.