The New York Yankees have been hesitant to keep Clint Frazier in the big leagues, but his time has finally come.
Clint Frazier is, like, really good. But he’s been rotting in the minors.
He’s had his fair share of demons, like poor defense and poor performances with the media.
But he’s damn good.
The New York Yankees acquired Frazier in 2016 in that Andrew Miller trade, and he automatically became one of the outfielders of the future, along with then-prospect Aaron Judge. The Yankees thought so highly of him, they put him with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, even though he had been playing for Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate.
But he has played in just 123 major league games since 2017, half of them coming last season.
Frazier was finally on track to be an everyday player for the Yankees—in his first 53 games last year, he posted a slash line of .283/.330/.843. Although he was streaky, he was putting up the best numbers of his career, including 11 homers and 34 RBIs in that stretch.
But after a bad game defensively and poor showing with the media in June, the Yankees sent him back down to Triple-A until September call-ups. Yankee fans then saw the emergence of Mike Tauchman, who, in his 87 games, posted an .865 OPS, while blasting 13 homers and driving in 34 runs.
Frazier has been rumored to be on the trade block for practically as long as the Yankees have had him, but he has remained primarily as an everyday player in Scranton.
The Yankees have had plenty of opportunities to trade Frazier—they kept him when they acquired Sonny Gray in 2017. Frazier remained a Yankee when they acquired former All-Stars like Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, J.A. Happ. The Yankees stayed totally put at the 2019 trade deadline.
The Yankees obviously like Frazier’s skillset, so why hasn’t he been traded for an All Star? Or become one himself?
Frazier spoiled his one legitimate chance of becoming the stud he was destined to be. But now with early injuries to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, he may be getting another shot.
In his first five games this spring, Frazier is a .300 hitter, while posting a 1.329 OPS. He blasted a home run and has two doubles and six walks, three of them coming on Tuesday.
The defense is certainly an issue. His attitude is in question.
But he is an offensive stud—Brian Cashman once called his bat speed “legendary.”
Frazier owns an .804 OPS in 213 Triple-A games. Although it was just .738 last year, he had a whopping .963 OPS for Scranton in 2018.
The Yankees do not have a fifth-starter right now. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton, who is hurt, are both free agents after this season. J.A. Happ will be a free agent after 2021. Trading Frazier for a major-league arm cannot possibly be out of the realm.
If Frazier is going to rot in the minor leagues like he has been doing, when he has been major league ready for almost three years, the Yankees should fight their demons and trade him for legitimate talent—something that arguably should have, and could have, been done several times already.