Yankees need to play Clint Frazier in 2020 or trade him


What do Clint Frazier and Chance Adams have in common? Both at one time were the No. 2 prospects in the Yankees system. Adams is now in Kansas City while Frazier is on his last leg with the Yanks, which goes to show how much of a gamble prospects are.

Chance Adams was recently traded to the Royals to clear a 40-man roster spot for Gerrit Cole. In return, the Yankees acquired 21-year-old shortstop Cristian Perez, who has yet to play above Single-A.

A decent infielder, Perez has little ability with the bat, slashing .252/.309/.285 with 37 runs scored, zero home runs, 42 RBIs and a 48:20 K:BB ratio in 424 plate appearances last season (his fourth year in the minors).

Although the Yankees were able to get something for Adams — a former fifth-round pick in 2015, a filler for the lowest depths of the minor leagues isn’t much considering Adams was once linked to the Pirates for a package revolving around Cole!

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I reference Adams to Frazier because both were supposed to continue the organization’s parade of highly-touted prospects to the major leagues, following the likes of Luis Severino, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

Greg Bird was another young player that excited fans, but injuries and inconsistency derailed his time in pinstripes, as he was DFA’d this winter and is currently a free agent.

Therefore, it’s only natural to worry that Frazier is next in line to fail to live up to expectations in the Bronx. Now 25, Frazier is running out of time with the Yanks — to prove he can stick in the big leagues; otherwise, general manager Brian Cashman would be wise to get something of value for him now.

The thing with Frazier is that most everyone knows he can hit. He’s done all he can at the minor league level and even slugged 14 doubles, 12 homers, 38 RBIs and a .806 OPS across 225 at-bats in 69 games with the Bombers last season.

While his 70:16 K:BB ratio needs to be addressed, it’s his defensive woes that soured many fans. A .963 fielding percentage was the result of several misplayed flyballs resulting in three errors, -12 Rtot and -8 Rdrs in 80 chances.

However, he did show off a solid arm, picking up six assists (five in RF) across 395.1 innings. But his poor reaction to fan scrutiny and increasing media attention buried him in Triple-A Scranton as Mike Tauchman flourished in New York.

Fast-forward to the 2020 season. Aaron Hicks is likely out until August following Tommy John surgery and Giancarlo Stanton is slated to man the DH spot primarily. With Brett Gardner re-signed for one-year to play center field, that leaves Tauchman and Frazier to battle it out for left.

However, will Tauchman, who had a career year before going down in September with a severely strained calf, perform the way he did following his arrival from the Rockies? Only time will tell. But if there was ever a time for Frazier to make an indelible mark, this is the season.

While it’s easy to be down on Frazier following his controversial 2019 campaign, I hate seeing wasted talent when it comes to those that wear the pinstripes.

The Yankees don’t have many holes on their roster. But if fan-favorite Cameron Maybin was re-signed, or 2018 Gold-Glove finalist Kevin Pillar, that could signal Frazier’s potential inclusion in a deal for an extra bullpen arm — perhaps in a package for Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader.

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Yet I genuinely hope that Frazier, the crown jewel of the Andrew Miller to the Indians trade, is given every chance to win the job in spring training. Because if he can keep his head on straight and play to his potential, Frazier would only make the Yankees that much stronger for years to come.