There are few players as polarizing as Clint Frazier in recent New York Yankees’ history. Frazier, who came to the Yankees as the centerpiece in the trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians, slashed .267/.317/.489 with 12 home runs in 69 games this past season. However, controversy, both real and imagined, has followed Frazier from the very beginning of his Yankees career. With that controversy has come debate about whether or not Frazier has a future with the Yankees.
There is no doubt that Frazier helped the Yankees weather the storm of injuries that befell the team. He also had to weather a storm that he helped create with poor defensive play and then refusing to speak to the media after the June 2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He was sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and seemed to be banished from the Bronx. He expressed displeasure with his situation on social media, a move that certainly didn’t endear him to the Yankee brass. Things seemed to go from bad to worse as the season wore on but in the end there is a silver lining.
While down in Triple-A, Frazier worked. He put the time in with Julio Borbon, the Railriders’ defensive coach. He worked away from the media, away from the bright lights. Anyone who watched Frazier play in Triple-A didn’t see the same player who suffered defensive lapses in the Bronx. He was certainly better in left field than right field at both levels. Perhaps it is just a matter of being more comfortable in left field. Perhaps Frazier was just trying to do too much to justify being in the Major Leagues. Only he knows the answer.
What is known, however, is that Frazier was still a productive player at the plate despite the controversies that popped up around him all season. He has produced in New York, even if he has only 123 games under his belt. His ability to ignore the storms around him while he is on the baseball field might actually make him the perfect player for New York and all the pressures that come with it.
No player on the Yankees has been the subject of as many trade rumors or speculation. At least not since Carl Pavano. Frazier isn’t Pavano though. He has dealt with all of that talk in a variety of ways, some of which have caused him more difficulties. He has been offered to other teams in trades but he isn’t unique in that. Still, he is here and the truth is the Yankees are better off with him right now. Their outfield situation is murky and health has been an issue for Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge. Even Brett Gardner, if he is re-signed, comes with issues regarding usage and production. Cameron Maybin is a free agent and might be able to turn his productive season with the Yankees into a contract the Yankees might not be comfortable with offering. Hicks is out for a significant portion of the 2020 season after Tommy John surgery last month.
Whether you like it or not the Yankees need Clint Frazier. Unless they plan on offering a large contract to a player like Marcell Ozuna or Nicholas Castellanos Frazier is the best option for the Yankees in 2020. Now it is up to Frazier to show that he is ready and that he has matured. That should be easier than hitting a fastball.