As the 2020 season inches closer, does former Yankee top prospect Clint Frazier have a chance to be a part of the big league club and contribute?
Less than a month away from Spring training, the Yankees’ roster is pretty much set and offseason is all but wrapped up. The Bombers got their white whale in Gerrit Cole, resigned veteran Brett Gardner and overall seemed primed to make a World Series run in 2020. With this said, there are still a few minor kinks the Yanks need to work out before the season gets underway. For example, who is the fifth starter? Who will man the backup catcher position? Lastly, how will the Yankees configure their outfield? That last question should pique the interest of a certain former Yankee top prospect: Clint Frazier.
What got us Here?
Ideally, if all the Yankees were healthy, Frazier simply wouldn’t have a spot in any way on the roster and would likely find himself down in Scranton. However, with Aaron Hicks slated to miss most of the season with Tommy John surgery, this opens the door for Frazier to emerge as a backup outfielder.
Frazier was traded to the Yankees from the Indians in July of 2016 in exchange for Andrew Miller. Frazier debuted back in 2017 and has shown signs of life but overall has struggled to stay on the field. In 142 plate appearances, Frazier hit .231 with a lowly .268 on-base percentage. In 2018, Frazier dealt with a concussion issue that sidelined him the majority of the season, but showed signs of life at the plate, hitting .265 with a .390 on-base percentage in 41 plate appearances. Finally, Frazier got his biggest shot to date in 2019, as he hit .267 with a .317 on-base percentage with 12 home runs in 69 games. The biggest knock on Frazier in 2019 was his defensive abilities, as he struggled in the outfield, to say the least.
Can he Help the Yankees?
Of course, he can. Let’s call it like it is, Frazier’s got loads of talent and potential, especially in his bat, but defensive troubles and logjams in the outfield have derailed his career to this point. Now, with Hicks out for the better part of 2020, expect the starting outfield situation to be something around the lines of Brett Gardner in left, Mike Tauchman in center, and Aaron Judge in right, with Giancarlo Stanton likely getting some time as well on the corners, too.
This opens up Frazier to potentially be the fourth outfielder, and if Gardner or Tauchman struggle out of the gate, we may see a situation where Frazier is slotted into the starting lineup, which would be a golden opportunity for the young outfielder. Also, knowing the Yankees, it’s probably safe to assume that another injury to the outfield will happen somewhere over the course of the season, which would also open the door for Frazier to get a shot.
Based on Frazier’s value alone, this could lead the Yankees to shop him to a rebuilding team in order for another piece that could help the Yanks on their World Series run. We’ve heard rumblings of Frazier possibly being dealt in the past, but the Yankees have never acted on those rumors. Will this year be different?
Really, there’s no way to know how the Yankees will handle Frazier in 2020. He could be traded, spend a large part of the season in Triple-A if his performance drops, or even work his way into the starting lineup and contribute heavily for a period of time. Depending on what we see in Spring Training could be an indication as to what to expect for the regular season.