Yankees: How can NYY solve Clint Frazier problem?


The Yankees were built too right-handed heavy, but it’s difficult to fix that when so many of the righty bats are core members of the offense.

That begs the question, though: what about the one righty bat in the lineup the team wasn’t banking on? Why hasn’t he been swapped out for an option on the trade market as quickly as possible?

Such is the case of Clint Frazier, who brings neither balance nor patience nor potency to the Yankees’ scuffling lineup, which is currently floating around the same territory occupied by the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense, a team that has lost 23 straight road games.

So, what do you do? Do you demote? Do you sell at the lowest … ever? Do you stay the course? So far, Option 3 has been quite unpleasant.

Much of the Yankees’ lineup has been disappointing (Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu…), but Frazier … has been on a whole ‘nother level.

He’s been among the very worst regulars in Major League Baseball at any and every position.

The Yankees need to demote or trade Clint Frazier.

Frazier was essentially given the starting left field job this winter after an exemplary 2020, and all the stars seemed to be aligning for a full-season breakout. Heck, he even had a Gold Glove nomination to go along with his whip-quick bat. There was no reason whatsoever to predict a complete and total backslide.

And yet …

Frazier’s Statcast page tells the tale of a hitter who can still strike a baseball on the barrel from time to time, but has lost all consistency around the strike zone. His barrel percentage is a full-season career low of 9.9. His average exit velocity is down 2.5 MPH from 2020, resting uncomfortably in the 12th percentile of all MLB players. His expected batting average … is in the fifth percentile. Outside of the red-highlighted walk rate, there’s nothing to like about his potential to bounce back in 2021, 2022 and beyond, unless he reignites without a moment’s notice.

Or, put less tactfully:

The Yankees’ lineup is too heavy on one side of the plate, which is enough of a problem with entrenched pieces like Aaron Judge, Stanton, LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres (uh, we sure that guy’s entrenched?). When an additional righty is performing as poorly as Frazier is, it’s well past time to entertain a drastic change.

Trading him now would represent an extreme buy low for any middling team looking to potentially acquire a 20-25-homer bat in the worst possible situation. There’s at least a chance the No. 1 thing holding him back is the restrictive power and prestige of the New York Yankees. It’s possible he’s included as a piece in a package for upper echelon talent, but a one-for-one swap seems unlikely, considering Frazier’s value is in the gutter. Tie a top-10 prospect to him, though, and things begin to change. The deal at least looks more respectable.

A demotion, which Yankees fans rallied against back in 2019, would be a slap in the face and wouldn’t do much to patch the relationship. At the same time, Frazier’s issues are mystifying. He’s recognizing strikes, but he isn’t punishing them. Perhaps some pride must be swallowed, and some time out of the spotlight could do Frazier more good than changing organizations.

If the sum total of the Andrew Miller trade that “reshaped” this franchise is a struggling Frazier, a James Paxton experiment and a back-end reliever who’s now on the Rays, that wouldn’t help things moving forward. But Frazier can’t stay here anymore, unless he learns to switch-hit.