When a prospect gets dealt to a team, the general manager who acquired him will often use a superlative or adjective to describe their attributes. Often it not anything memorable just generic words to play up the acquisition.
Occasionally it is notable such as when Brian Cashman described Clint Frazier’s bat speed as “legendary” shortly after the July 31, 2016 transaction that landed Frazier along with three other prospects in a deal that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland.
“Frazier has an electric bat,” Cashman said shortly after the deal. “His bat speed is already legendary. He’s got all the tools —he can run, he can hit, he can hit with power, he can play all three outfield positions. A very exciting, high-energy guy that shows up for the National Anthem in a dirty uniform.”
Describing someone as getting his uniform dirty during the National Anthem is notable enough but adding legendary to the description was always more notable.
On Friday, Frazier was a line in the transaction page when the Yankees designated him for assignment to clear room on their 40-man roster. While it was a line on a busy transaction page it also was a signal the Yankees were essentially done giving Frazier opportunities.
It also was a swift fall for Frazier, who entered the 2021 season with career numbers that might represent a respectable full season. He began last season with a career .258 batting average, 24 homers and 82 RBIs in 162 games spanning 524 at-bats.
Those numbers were achieved in parts of four seasons and it appeared that respectable showing 39 games he played during the pandemic 2020 season were enough to solidify his standing on the team. It further seemed that way when the Yankees anointed him as their starting left fielder at the start of spring training in February.
It never worked out this season for Frazier. His 183 at-bats were the second-most of his career but he only batted .186 to go along with five homers and 15 RBIs and he did not play after June 30 due to what the Yankees said was vertigo and a month later Joey Gallo was brought in to fill the need for a left fielder that was created when Brett Gardner slid over to center field to replace Aaron Hicks.
The Yankees never updated Frazier’s condition, but it continued a frustrating injury history for the 27-year-old. After debuting in 2017 by hitting four homers and 17 RBI, including a memorable game-ending homer off Milwaukee, he suffered a concussion in spring training before the 2018 season.
Frazier was still feeling the effects of it throughout 2019 when he appeared in a career-high 69 games and batted .267 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs. It also was a season where some defensive misplays in Boston and the subsequent fallout of not being available postgame slightly overshadowed the promise.
Frazier’s advanced metrics are fairly consistent as his exit velocities have ranged from 86.9 mph to 89.4 and his expected batting averages have ranged between .207 and .246.
Frazier has done decently when seeing fastballs at times. He batted .205 against those pitches last season but hit .300 or higher from 2018 to 2020 after hitting .227 on those pitches in 2017.
Even if the Yankees did not make this move Friday, it’s possible they might not have tendered him a contract by the Dec. 1 deadline. Projections had him pegged to make $2.4 million in arbitration and the prospect of that salary for someone who may be viewed as an unknown might have been too much though the day before making the move Cashman was optimistic about Frazier being a productive and healthy contributor.
“He got taken offline rather early [in 2021] and he didn’t get back,” Cashman said. “He’s going have to find his way back into it. He’s certainly more than capable of doing that. So most important is his health and being healthy. Once that’s in play, which I believe it is, his journey can begin again.”
If Frazier can be a healthy and productive contributor, it will likely be somewhere else and if he does well it be one of those changes of scenery type of situation that often play out and one that could be determined shortly if gets claimed off waivers or traded after going unclaimed.