The Yankees aren’t going to give Clint Frazier away, but sending him to the Minors makes it clear that Brian Cashman is ready to make a deal.
When the Yankees made the decision to trade for Edwin Encarnacion it became obvious that a highly regarded player would be exiting the Bronx. In the end, Clint Frazier became the outfielder to pay the price for New York’s overcrowding in the outfield.
Encarnacion is expected to be an active member of Aaron Boone’s roster on Monday. Giancarlo Stanton is ticketed for a return from his rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday. Adding both sluggers to the active rosters obviously will require New York to open up two spots on the roster.
Most observers thought Mike Tauchman’s return to AAA would be the first shoe to drop. He’s a quality defensive player in right or left field, but he probably doesn’t hit well enough to merit a starting position for a team with World Series aspirations. Instead, the Yankees elected to send Frazier down to AAA.
Tauchman will almost certainly follow Frazier when Stanton comes back to the Majors, but sending Frazier down first should be interpreted as a message from Cashman and the Yankees’ front office. They are clearly willing to field offers for the 24-year-old outfielder.
Frazier’s performance this season has been a divisive subject for the Yankees. Offensively, he’s been a bright spot for a lineup that has been short of power hitters without the likes of Stanton and Aaron Judge. His 11 home runs and 34 RBIs in just 52 games are a big reason why New York is currently in first place in the AL East. The fact that Frazier’s also hitting for a reasonably high batting average of .285 proves he can be a high-quality hitter at the Major League level.
Unfortunately, his defense in the outfield has been a huge negative. Frazier has only been credited with three errors on the season, but he’s misplayed quite a few balls that have allowed Yankees opponents to mount big innings in key situations. At times, Frazier has looked absolutely lost in the outfield. At his best, he’s proved to be a shaky defender.
His response to those defensive miscues are an even bigger concern for an organization very concerned with image. Instead of owning up to his mistakes to the media, Frazier makes a habit of avoiding reporters when he doesn’t play well. That’s not an acceptable pattern of behavior for Cashman and company.
Despite his flaws in the field, Frazier is still a player who will have a lot of value in trade talks. That’s particularly important to the Yankees since they are firmly committed to upgrading their starting rotation in the coming weeks. Making it obvious that Frazier is the odd man out of their healthy roster will lead to a lot of calls on his availability. Cashman and company will try to make Frazier the centerpiece for any outgoing offer for a top-line starting pitcher.
Frazier’s career in the Bronx isn’t necessarily over, but the Yankees are clearly open to the idea of moving him in the very near future. Leaving the organization might allow Frazier a fresh start while giving New York the pitching ace they need. He’s a player to keep a very close eye on as the trade deadline approaches.