Clint Frazier has some intriguing offensive tools, but he’s never going to develop into a quality starter for the New York Yankees.
When the 2020 MLB finally gets underway it’s safe to assume that Clint Frazier is going to occupy a spot on the Yankees’ 25-man roster. He might even find a way to become a regular member of Aaron Boone’s starting lineup if Aaron Judge isn’t healthy when Opening Day finally arrives.
Frazier shouldn’t get too comfortable with the idea that he can be a regular starter in the Bronx. The appropriate ceiling for his time with the Yankees is to become an above-average fourth outfielder.
The 24-year-old only qualifies for that position due to his offensive prowess. He was a solidly above average hitter during his 69 games for the Yankees in 2019. His .269 batting average didn’t blow anyone away, but he showed solid power production with 12 home runs in just 225 at bats. His final oWAR of 0.8 on the campaign illustrates that he can be a positive offensive force. Frazier shouldn’t be a middle of the order hitter for a good team, but he doesn’t need to be relegated to the bottom of the order either.
Unfortunately for Frazier, his hit tool is his only positive attribute as a player. Concerns about his defense and mental makeup make him a poor fit to become a starter for a team with legitimate World Series aspirations.
Frazier’s defensive struggles are a bit of an enigma for scouts. He has the athleticism to cover more than enough ground to be an above-average corner outfielder. His inability to track the ball and make catches when he does get into position is hugely problematic. That prevents Frazier from being anything approximating a quality defensive outfielder. He was so bad defensively in 2019 that he completely erased all of his positive offensive contributions with a dWAR of -1.0.
The odds are stacked against Frazier showing any significant defensive improvement given his age and the fact that he’s been an outfielder for his entire professional career. Questions about his makeup and willingness to be coached only decrease the chances of Frazier strengthening his major weakness.
At best, Frazier has a chance to develop into a net neutral defender. That, combined with modest improvement in his offensive production might allow Frazier to become a player who can provide a team with a WAR of 2 or 3 in his prime. There are plenty of teams that would love to slot that kind of production into their everyday lineup.
The Yankees aren’t a franchise that will be satisfied with that sort of ceiling in a corner outfielder. Those spots on the diamond are reserved for players who can be MVP caliber hitters. At the moment, Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are the sort of marquee offensive forces that start at left and right field in the Bronx.
Corner outfield spots will continue to be havens for aging offensive stars with massive offensive capability for the Yankees. Frazier is never going to develop into an MVP-caliber slugger. That will continue to relegate him to being the team’s fourth outfielder for the foreseeable future.
The most likely outcome for Frazier is to move to a team that is willing to deploy a lower ceiling option at a corner outfield position. He’s got a chance to blossom into a quality MLB regular, but his value just doesn’t line up well for the Yankees. His future lies away from the Bronx.