With the Pittsburgh Pirates looking to sell off veteran pieces, Adam Frazier could fill a need the Chicago White Sox currently have
The Pittsburgh Pirates are willing to trade most of their veterans with value entering the 2020 campaign. They’re staring down the barrel of a rebuild, and are looking to deal some of their players in exchange for young talent. One of the names that has been thrown around is second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier.
While Frazier was primarily utilized as a utility man for the first few seasons of his career, he was the Pirates’ primary 2B during the 2019 season. He did solid, batting .278/.336/.417 with 10 long balls, and a 99 OPS+/97 wRC+ in 608 PA’s. Frazier was a finalist for the National League Second Base Gold Glove Award and for a good reason. He had a +6 DRS, 2.9 UZR and 0.8 dWAR at second base last season. He is under team control though the 2022 season as well.
The Chicago White Sox are looking to buy pieces that will further fortify their roster. Unlike the Pirates, they’re looking to come out of a rebuild that started back in the 2016-2017 off-season when they dealt the likes of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.
Currently, the team has a few holes offensively, but still have a handful of young position players coming up through the minors. One of the holes is second base, where Nick Marginal will eventually take over.
But until Madrigal is ready, the question is who will keep the seat warm for him? The Sox non-tendered 2019 American League Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez, and, on the White Sox’ depth chart, Leury Garcia is listed as the team’s first option at second base. Garcia, however, is not exactly a good option. Garcia batted just .270/.310/.378 in 618 plate appearances last season. Plus, he has not played the middle infield position much in his career and he has only 322.2 innings at second.
Fraizer not only is a solid holdover at second base until Marginal is ready, but he also can help the White Sox in the outfield. Last season, former top 3 prospect Eloy Jimenez was one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game. He had -11 DRS and a -5.1 UZR, both of which ranked in the bottom eight of all outfielders. His -1.4 defensive WAR really tells it all.
On the other hand, Frazier has a +8 career DRS and 0.8 UZR in left field. While those might not look too impressive on paper, those numbers all came in just 585 innings in left field.
If the White Sox were to trade for Frazier, they could improve their defense by making him their full time left fielder and moving Jimenez to designated hitter. Jimenez is more than capable of handling a DH role. From June onward, Jimenez batted a strong .284/.331/.558, and crushed 25 home runs in 372 plate appearances. With Jimenez moving to DH, the 22-year-old could help boost his plate discipline (6% walk rate against a 26.6% K rate). While Jose Abreu or Andrew Vaughn will eventually take over 1B/DH (by 2021 at the latest), which might push Jimenez back to the outfield, Frazier’s utility is always very helpful. I could also see a situation where Frazier is moved to right field since Nomar Mazara is a bit of a wildcard speaking he’s never been anything more than average with the bat.
But the White Sox have a trade chip that I feel would fit the Pirates situation perfectly. Their 9th best prospect, Zack Collins. Collins is the White Sox best catching prospect, and with the signing of Yasmani Grandal, Collins, despite being a catcher, would not see much playing time behind the plate. Despite having a lackluster debut in the Majors (.656 OPS), it was in a sample size 102 plate appearances, and he crushed Triple-A pitching. In 367 plate appearances at the Triple-A level Collins slashed .282/.403/.548 which was good for 140 wRC+. While Collins isn’t ranked as the highest fielder (45 rating on mlb.com), he has caught 37% of runners trying to steal on him in his career. In the event his glove doesn’t stick at catcher, his bat has more than enough potential to give enough reason to move to first base.
I feel this is why the White Sox are a perfect trade partner for the Pirates involving Frazier. Frazier provides the White Sox a good temporarily solution at second base, but also improve their defense by moving one of the worst fielders in 2019 to DH. The White Sox have a prospect that fills a need the Pirates have, catcher. The pay for the White Sox is reasonable for a second baseman/outfielder who can put up solid batting numbers, and good defense.