Arrangement That Would Allow Frazier To Stay With The New York Yankees
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Clint Frazier remains one of the most intriguing young talents in the New York Yankees system. But the 23-year-old outfielder’s future in Pinstripes remains unclear. What will the Bronx Bombers do with him in 2018?

Since this never-ending offseason moves slower than Pablo Sandoval trying to leg out a double (not that he’s doing much of that these days anyway) let’s address a question that seems impossible to answer: What are the New York Yankees going to do with Clint Frazier?

Not just in 2018, but long-term?

Frazier has all the tools to be an absolute stud. His bat speed is considered by many to be legendary.  His arm strength is fantastic.  He’s definitely not as slow as this offseason. He might not be a finished product, but his upside is through the roof.

He did enough in his short time with the Yankees last season to say that he’s ready for a full-time gig in the big leagues, not another season in the minors.

The problem is that the Yankees have an absurd amount of outfielders at the major league level. You’ve got the reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The American League Rookie of the Year (and Home Run champ) Aaron Judge. Former first-round pick Aaron Hicks, who finally put all five of his tools to use at the same time. Brett Gardner, the longest-tenured Yankee, a Gold Glove-caliber defender and the very heart and soul of the team. And Jacoby Ellsbury, the most expensive reserve outfielder in MLB history.

So while there is little doubt that Frazier is ready, there’s just not any room for him. That leaves the Yankees with a bunch of options.

Trading Frazier

Does Brian Cashman see a future for Clint Frazier in a Yankees outfield that figures to feature Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the next decade? If he does—which would mean Aaron Hicks doesn’t have a long-term future as the team’s starting center fielder—then the idea of trading Red Thunder is null and void.

But if he’s not, the team would be wise to move him now.  He is simply too talented to waste away for another year at Triple-A or receive sporadic and inconsistent playing time in the big leagues.  Relegating him to the bench for a large chunk of the season would hurt both his trade value and his development as a player.  

If Cashman decides to go all in right now, Frazier and a couple of lower prospects can be flipped for a true top-flight starter, a move those of us who believe in Jordan Montgomery consider unnecessary. Frazier could also be flipped for a big infield bat at either second base or third base, depending on where Gleyber Torres is brought up to play.

In reality, though, Manny Machado is the only player on the market worth a prospect as talented as Frazier and that’s far too high an asking price with Machado a free agent next year. Moving Frazier will prove just as difficult as trying to find a place for him on the team.

Keeping Frazier

If Cashman does see Frazier as a long-term piece—and Frazier makes his case for regular playing time this spring—it’s hard to see a scenario in which Frazier, Hicks and Brett Gardner play often enough to make a big impact.

Not only would the Yankees have to pretend that Ellsbury isn’t owed a metric-ton of money as there’s little hope another team would take him off their hands, but they’d have to convince Gardner and Hicks to accept being part of a rotation, one that saw them both take turns as the team’s designated hitter and spend a game as the fourth outfielder here and there.

While a five-or-six-man rotation would help keep everyone healthy throughout the dog days of summer, it remains an unlikely scenario.

Trading Gardner could be a possibility if another team suffers an injury in spring training, but his natural leadership, playoff experience, and team-friendly contract—which makes him attractive to other teams—are the same reasons the Yankees probably wouldn’t move him.

So where does this all leave Frazier?

Shuffling Frazier

The most realistic scenario is that Frazier spends much of his season on the Scranton Shuttle, filling in when injury and/or ineffectiveness strike the Yankees outfield. 

Even with Judge or Stanton likely to spend more time as a designated hitter than an outfielder, there are just too many established players that need playing time for Frazier, as insanely talented as he is, to get a fair shot at regular playing time.


2 COMMENTS

  1. Bite the bullet, agree to pay the majority (>>50%) of Ellsbury’s contract to move Ellsbury. Even if they only shave $5-7 million per year off the books by paying most of his salary so another team can take him, it’s still $5-7 million. I’m sure there are teams out there willing to take Ellsbury if all they themselves have to pay him is $5-7 million per. It’s too late for the “but we don’t want to pay him to play for someone else” argument. Just move him already and not only clear a roster spot but also the bad vibe that simply having him around brings. Doesn’t matter if he has a resurgence (unlikely as it is) once traded. THEN if Frazier really looks like the real deal, maybe trading Hicks would be an option to? Hicks who currently projects to only make about $2.8 million this upcoming season should get a lot of interest and could get the Yankees something real solid back in return in a trade. If the Yankees rotate Stanton and Judge between RF and DH then that would clear up LF for Frazier. They have coverage at AAA in case of injury and they need a replacement 4th-5th OF in Jake Cave who batted .324 with 15 homers in 72 AAA games this past season nor is 4th-5th “insurance” OF’ers exactly a rare or expensive commodity to acquire.

  2. I’m not terribly against trading Frazier since it will be so tough to find him ABs but only if you get enough back to make it worth it. The guy has shown he at least deserves a chance to show what he can do at the major league level. I would like it to be on the Yankees, but Stanton changed everything and I’m not going to freak out if they trade him unless they get nothing in return. If he could play CF my opinion would be different, but sadly he can’t. DH spot is just too crowded already. You can’t even devote it to one of the OF every day since Sanchez will need to DH plenty as well to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible.
    As for Ellsbury I’d do whatever it takes to get rid of him. Eat as much salary as it takes, even something like 80% would still save millions off the penalty cap, and the guy can still be a starting outfielder in this league. If he won’t drop the no trade bury him completely until he does.