It might be time the Yankees give Clint Frazier a shot in left field.
It has been four years since New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman traded left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for four players, including outfield prospect Clint Frazier. Since then, the power-hitting Frazier has bounced between the minors and the majors.
Before the coronavirus pandemic shut down Major League Baseball on March 12, Frazier was on track to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster in Baltimore due to Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton recovering from injuries. Frazier most likely would have been in an outfield rotation with Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman and Miguel Andujar.
But the four-month layoff allowed the Yankees to begin the shortened 60-game regular-season with a healthy trio of Stanton, Judge and Hicks. With Stanton assuming the designated-hitter spot in the Yankees lineup, that meant Gardner would begin the season in left field next to Hicks in center and Judge in right.
Frazier made the Opening Night 30-man roster, but after the Yankees lost 9-2 July 25 to the Washington Nationals, manager Aaron Boone informed Frazier afer the game that he was being sent down to the Yankees alternate training site at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for at least 10 days (unless he replaces an injured player) so they can add more pitching.
Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee in his 13th season for New York and is the only player left from the 2009 World Series championship team. During his time in the Bronx, he has manned all three outfield positions, supplied the Bombers with key hits, and has been a mentor to the young players. In 2019, he had career-highs with 28 HRs and 74 RBI.
But what can’t be ignored is how his first four games of this season have looked like at the plate. Gardner is 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts, which included a recent four K performance in as many at-bats in Wednesday’s 9-3 victory over the Orioles.
How much longer can Boone go with the 36-year old Gardner and his slumping bat? They can hide him at the bottom of the lineup for now, but sooner or later, that will catch up with them.
Another question that has to be asked is why has Cashman and the Yankees continued to hold onto Frazier so long without dealing him if they don’t want to give him a shot? Now seems like the right time to give Frazier the nod.
He has power, which he showed last season with 26 extra-base hits in 69 games. He had 12 home runs and no doubt supplied a spark in the lineup when given the opportunity. He needs to work out on his strikeouts and defense, but that’ll come with more playing time.
The bottom line is that Frazier is too talented to be bussing between the MLB roster and the minor leagues. It’s downright disrespectful to the 25-year-old, if we’re being honest. It’s understandable that the Yankees simply have a good problem with too much depth, but to put Tauchman and Andujar ahead of him on the depth chart seems misguided.
Frazier deserves more of a chance than he’s been given since 2017. Tauchman, though his defense is better, isn’t exactly worlds ahead of Frazier at the plate, and Andujar isn’t a natural outfielder. Why is Frazier the one being overlooked? That needs to change if Gardy keeps struggling.
The slugger’s lightning fast bat should be next up in left field.