The relationship between the New York Yankees and Jackson Frazier (once known as Clint) deteriorated nearly as quickly as his legendary bat speed. Most of the reasons for the relationship's dissolution went far beyond Frazier's control, though.
Known for his brash confidence when he burst upon the Yankees' scene in 2017, the reputation that preceded him wasn't aided by the work of the local media, who painted Frazier as a rule-breaker who demanded Mickey Mantle's jersey number (something he did not do). The early editions of Frazier were as advertised, on the field; he hit 4 homers in 39 games with a .231 average and .715 OPS, a solid start with flashes of more pop to come.
Unfortunately, Yankees fans never saw an uninterrupted version of Frazier's development. He began the 2018 season on the IL with concussion symptoms after a wall crash in spring training. Though he fought back valiantly to post his best big-league season in 2019 (12 homers, 111 OPS+, some of the team's best clutch stats), he was demoted midseason; something was still off between the two parties.
His shortened 2020 was special. He posted a remarkable 150 OPS+. Ironically, the season where no one else in America was comfortable was the year he finally fit in. It was not meant to last.
Another wall crash prior to the 2021 season. Another set of concussive after-effects. By the end of the year, he was bound for Chicago. By the middle of the 2022 season, he was sliced from the roster again after a salacious interview, which came just before his return trip to the Bronx as a visitor. He would've likely been cheered, too, despite the best efforts of Randy Miller.
On Friday, Frazier silently resurfaced with the Texas Rangers, joined by 38-year-old reliever Ian Kennedy, a ghost from a different era of Yankees player development blunders.
Yankees fan favorites Jackson Frazier (aka Clint Frazier) and Ian Kennedy sign with Rangers
Frazier's development was irrevocably altered by forces beyond his control. That said, even when he was healthy, the Yankees never seemed to trust him. 2019's midsummer demotion will always be the prime example of such discord, as well as the obvious counter to, "Well, he wasn't healthy..."
The mercurial outfielder did a courageous job coming clean about so many lingering things from his Yankee tenure after his time in the Bronx ended. It would be great to hear his side of the 2019 story, since the Yankees would be unlikely to reveal the role their development folks played in full.
Kennedy, on the flip side, has gone on to have a largely successful and healthy career outside of New York in the rotation (2011 fourth-place Cy Young finisher with the Diamondbacks) and bullpen (2.51 first-half ERA with Texas in 2021). For the most crafty member of the Yankees' prospect trio of 2007, alongside Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, signing with the Rangers represents a return home while nearing the end of a very long journey.
What Frazier needs is to find that home. Where he is comfortable. Where his leash is longer if he struggles. Hopefully, that home has arrived.