Clint Frazier’s time in the Major Leagues has been bizarre, to say the least.
Drafted 5th overall by the then-Indians in 2013, Frazier would be traded to the Yankees in a five-player deal that netted them Andrew Miller. One of the premier relievers in the sport, Miller propelled Cleveland to their first pennant in 19 years.
Frazier debuted the following season, putting up a modest .715 OPS in 142 plate appearances. The following year, limited to just 15 games by a string of concussion injuries, Frazier would put together a .265/.390/.353 slash line (107 OPS+).
The 2019 campaign would be seen as a breakout of sorts for the 24-year-old Frazier. Playing what remains a career-best 69 games, he hit 12 home runs over just 246 plate appearances, finishing the year with a .489 slugging percentage. Through June 15, Frazier had accrued a .283/.330/.513 slash, though the team would acquire veteran DH Edwin Encarnación from Seattle, resulting in Frazier’s demotion to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Following his recall when rosters expanded on September 1, Frazier had cooled off dramatically (.176/.243/.353 in 37 PA).
The pandemic-shortened 2020 would see Frazier reach new heights. Playing in 39 of the 60 games, Frazier would hit .267/.394/.511 (150 OPS+). The corner outfielder would also hit his first career postseason home run, a solo shot off former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Clint Frazier turns around Blake Snell's 96 MPH heater and drills it out for a homer to give the Yankees the lead again pic.twitter.com/K4vbBBFkPU— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) October 6, 2020
One would think that a 108-game sample of production 26-percent above the MLB average would earn Frazier regular playing time with the Yankees. Alas, with an outfield consisting of Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, the veteran presence of Brett Gardner, and the in-season acquisition of Joey Gallo, his path was blocked. Injuries made it even more challenging for him to break through the clutter.
In 2021, Frazier hit a career-worst .185 in 66 games. The Yankees cut ties with him and he elected free agency after passing through waivers unclaimed.
All told, Frazier has slashed .239/.327/.434 (104 OPS+) over 807 plate appearances in the majors, hitting 29 home runs and driving in 97.
The Fish, as they currently sit, won’t enter the 2022 season full systems go in terms of competing for a playoff spot. Plenty of reputable impact bats will remain available on the free agent market on the other side of the MLB lockout, but nobody would confuse Miami with the division rival New York Mets—principal owner Bruce Sherman doesn’t sound like someone who’s willing to splurge on the likes of Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha and Starling Marte in a single night as the Mets did. A limited budget begets more creative solutions.
Should the Marlins have taken a flyer on Frazier, hoping to tap into his offensive upside with consistent playing time? Reuniting with ex-Yankees acquaintances James Rowson and Gary Denbo may have been a boon for him.
Instead, Frazier landed with the Cubs earlier this week on a one-year, $1.5 million deal. That could prove to be a massive bargain.