As they tried to make some room on their MLB roster to protect some prospects from being taken in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the New York Yankees had to designate Clint Frazier for assignment and, after a few days, release him altogether.
Frazier was the headliner in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade, that sent the star reliever to the Cleveland Indians.
The young outfielder received several opportunities to establish himself as a major league contributor, but failed to do so until 2020.
That year, the pandemic season, saw Frazier show a much more disciplined approach that led to a lot of walks and offensive success.
He hit .267/.394/.511 with eight homers in 160 plate appearances, achieving a career-high .905 OPS.
In 2021, however, he failed to replicate that success, hitting .186/.317/.317 in 218 plate appearances.
He also fought concussion-like symptoms for weeks: blurry vision and dizziness, mostly.
He wasn’t healthy, and he had a bad year.
The Yankees’ Loss Is The Cubs Gain
The Yankees needed the roster spot and had to let him go, but their loss was the Chicago Cubs’ gain.
— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) November 30, 2021
The Cubs, sellers at the 2021 trade deadline, are currently in talent acquisition mode and could theoretically return to contention as soon as 2022.
They just signed catcher Yan Gomes and, during their tough second half, they discovered a couple of players that can help them in their future.
Frank Schwindel performed admirably last season and will get a chance to run away with the first base job, while Patrick Wisdom’s power (28 homers in 106 games) will also guarantee him some playing time.
Depending on what they do in the offseason, they could have a path toward a postseason race, and a signing like Frazier can help a lot: low cost, but high upside.
A Low-Cost, High-Reward Investment
The Cubs signed Frazier to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million in salary and another $1 million worth of incentives.
It’s not a high price to pay for someone who has the potential of hitting 30 home runs with a .350 OBP in a best-case scenario, which is not too shabby.
Despite receiving a Gold Glove nomination in 2020, Frazier is not really a good fielder.
However, if the National League incorporates a designated hitter in 2022, that could be his spot, or could rotate in the outfield with Rafael Ortega (another 2021 revelation), Jason Heyward, and Ian Happ.
The Cubs are also the perfect club for Frazier: they are in a retool phase, which means a young player like him is a lock to receive important playing time, but they also want to contend right away, so the whole season will be played in a competitive environment even if the most likely scenario remains the Milwaukee Brewers taking the NL Central division again.
After years of struggling to get plate appearances in loaded Yankees’ lineups, all Frazier needs to do is produce more than Heyward, Happ, or Ortega to be a regular in Chicago.
Re: Cubs signing of Clint Frazier. Optimistic about this move if they can give him consistent playing time. He never got over 250 PA in a season with the Yankees, averaged 161 PAs in 5 seasons. Love his pedigree, and still believe he’s got potential for a solid ceiling https://t.co/eoWeuQpjqi
— Jake Bujnowski (@baseball_buj) November 30, 2021
The odds are in his favor, and as long as he is fully healthy (the Yankees’ executives recently said he is expected to be ready for spring training), he could be a late bloomer for the Cubs.