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Time for the Yankees to Play or Trade Clint Frazier

To continue their recent history of player development, it’s crucial for the Yankees to give Red Thunder the playing time he needs.

The 2018 MLB offseason is reaching it’s peak and the New York Yankees seem to have made the bulk of the moves that they planned to make. They acquired starting pitcher James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners and re-signed JA Happ. Now, they will turn their attention to signing two more relievers to bulk up their bullpen, as well as look at middle infield options to fill in for the injured Didi Gregorius. Most of all, they will await the decision of superstar free agent Manny Machado, who the Yankees seem to have been in on all offseason.

I’ll get into my feelings on all of the above on a later date. For now, it’s time to look at a player on the Yankees that has fallen off of many peoples radars, but the organization still holds in high regards. I’m of course talking about Clint Frazier, the 24 year old outfielder whom the Yankees acquired from the Cleveland Indians as the headliner for Andrew Miller back in 2016.

It was a rough 2018 season for Clint Frazier. On a major league roster that features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Brett Gardner as it’s top four outfielders, Clint Frazier struggled to get any playing time in the major leagues, playing in just 15 games in all of last season.. Most of all, Frazier missed the majority of the 2018 season dealing with concussions. Therefore, he missed multiple opportunities to get playing time, such as when Hicks went down in the beginning of the year, as well as when Judge missed all of August and most of September.

Despite this, in what we did see of Clint Frazier in 2018, he has made strides in multiple areas, particularly in terms of working counts and drawing walks. Red Thunder posted a .390 OBP in 2018, a significant jump from his .268 in 2017. Not only that, he still has the same bat speed that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman referred to as “legendary.” Because of all of this, it’s not hard to understand why Cashman and his front office have still held on to Red Thunder, despite him drawing interest from multiple teams.

With the resigning of Brett Gardner, it looks like Clint Frazier will be stuck in the same situation that he was in 2018. This is a very bad thing for Frazier and his growth as a major league player. Last season with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Clint Frazier posted a slash line of .311/.389/.574 for an OPS of .963. In 48 games, he hit 10 home runs and drove in 21 runs. Frazier has pretty much gotten everything out of Triple-A he possibly could at this point in his career. Now, he needs to be in a situation where he can get consistent playing time in the Major Leagues. Having him start the year once again in Triple A would do nothing but stunt his growth. Which is why the Yankees need to give Red Thunder the playing time he needs, or trade him.

Of these two options, the former makes a lot more sense than the later, at least at the moment. With all the concussions and the lack of playing time, Clint Frazier’s trade value is at an all time low. He’s no longer the trade chip that could’ve potentially been a headliner in a deal for an ace. It makes no sense for the Yankees to trade Clint Frazier right now when there’s little chance he can bring back something of significance.

This is where we have to look at where Clint Frazier could fit in on the Yankees 25 man roster in 2019, and believe it or not, it doesn’t look as bleak for Frazier as you might think. There are a multitude of ways Clint Frazier can earn himself some playing time in 2019. That’s because as loaded as the Yankees outfield is, there could still be a spot for Red Thunder. It was definitely a good move by the Yankees to bring back Brett Gardner, as he is the veteran leader of the Yankees lineup. However, he did not have a good season last year, posting a slash line of .236/.322/.368 for an OPS of just .690 in 2018. Combine that with the fact that he essentially got benched in favor of Andrew McCutchen shows you that Gardy is on the downside of his career.

Here is where Clint Frazier comes into play, as he is the perfect candidate to replace Gardner in the Yankees left field. Since Frazier is a righty bat, he can come into the lineup whenever the Yankees face left handed pitching. Furthermore, if Gardner continues to struggle, Frazier can fill in just like McCutchen did last year. Last but not least, it’s worth mentioning that Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks is a free agent at the end of the year. Should the Yankees decide to part with him, it opens up yet another spot for Clint Frazier’s taking.

However, first and foremost, Clint Frazier obviously needs to fully recover from all the concussions he’s suffered in time for Spring Training. If he can do that and make an impression, there’s no reason the Yankees shouldn’t give him his fair share of playing time in 2019.

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New York & New Jersey Sports Staff Writer, New Jersey Jackals Beat Writer
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