Looking at When the Pittsburgh Pirates Should Trade Adam Frazier


With Adam Frazier being a potential odd man out in a crowded middle infield picture, the Pittsburgh Pirates utility man should be moved. But when would be the right time to move him?

One of the long speculated Pittsburgh Pirates to be traded has been second baseman and utility man Adam Frazier. With a crowded infield picture that involves Frazier, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and eventually Liover Peguero, and 2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzalez, Frazier is likely to be the odd man out among all of them.

Frazier’s put up solid, but overall slightly below average numbers with the bat in 2019. Through 608 plate appearances with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the second baseman hit .278/.336/.417 with 10 home runs, 33 doubles and a 97 OPS+/wRC+. He also had a 95 DRC+, so it’s not like he was severely unlucky or lucky. Frazier clocked in with a league average wOBA at .320, but had a well below average wOBA at .315. The thing to focus on with Frazier is his very low strikeout rate of 12.3%. That placed him as the 10th hardest player to strikeout in all of baseball last season.

But most of Frazier’s offensive production came in the second half. After having a .254/.311/.361 line from the end of March to the end of June, Frazier then went on to hit .303/.361/.474 from July to the end of the season. This isn’t really anything uncommon for Frazier to do. His career OPS in the second half of the season is .806 while his first half OPS is just .720.

Where most of Frazier’s value comes from is his defense. At second base, Frazier was a gold glove finalist with -1 DRS, but +7 total zone runs above average, 2.9 UZR, 1.6 range runs above average and +12 outs above average.

Overall, Frazier was about a 2 WAR player with a 2.0 bWAR and 2.2 fWAR. It’s not like his value with the bat isn’t replaceable. If Tucker has to put up a .340 OBP and .400 slugging with a 95-100 OPS+/wRC+, and do that for an entire season consistently, then he would easily be replacing Frazier’s production with the bat. Plus with better defense at shortstop than Frazier at second base, he would be more than making up for the loss of Frazier’s defensive value.

So that comes to the question, when should the Pittsburgh Pirates do with Frazier? Well, if he gets off to a hot start, the team should most definitely shop him around. Frazier has control through 2021 and 2022. Even if a team doesn’t view 2020 as a season to go for it all and dump prospects for a player, Frazier isn’t a rental. He has two full years of control left which definitely helps his value in a shortened season compared to players with control only through 2020 or 2021.

In a trade, he probably isn’t going to bring back a top 100 prospect unless a team is really desperate. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get something back of value. In comparison, two utility men who provided similar value to Frazier in Aledmys Diaz and Jurickson Profar still brought back prospects that ranked as top 30 organizational prospects per MLB Pipeline.

In order for the Pittsburgh Pirates to get the most out of Frazier in a trade, they must look for the perfect situation. The Oakland A’s traded for Profar when they lost Jed Lowrie to the Mets in free agency, and needed second base depth. The Astros acquired Diaz when longtime Swiss Army Knife Marwin Gonzalez signed with the Twins. Right now, there just isn’t a large demand for a second baseman, or a utility man. Plus, it’s not like Frazier’s bat makes him a must have.

Throughout the off season, the Padres and A’s were possible destinations in a Frazier trade, but the Padres have acquired many second base capable players including two from the A’s in Profar and Jorge Mateo, one through free agency in Brian Dozier, and another in prospect Jake Cronenworth as part of the Hunter Renfroe/Tommy Pham trade. The A’s, despite trading two second base capable players still have a handful of others that could take over the position. Currently, prospect Franklin Barreto seems to be the front runner for primary keystone duties, but could easily be surpassed by either Chad Pinder or Sheldon Neuse. They also have Tony Kemp on hand as yet another option at second.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a situation available after the season is over where the Pittsburgh Pirates could take advantage of a team in need of second base or utility help. The Yankees could lose all-star, and 2019 MVP candidate D.J. LeMahieu to free agency. The Nationals could lose Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera to free agency as well. Other notable names involve the Dodgers as they will see Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner hit free agency this year, and Chris Taylor become one after 2021, meaning they could lose two very integral utility pieces, along with one of their best batters in their line-up in two years.

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Regardless, the Pirates should trade Frazier at some point or another. Right now might not be the best time considering that there are no good suitors for a player of his caliber, but many teams will be in the market for a utility man or a decent second baseman come the 2020-2021 off season. That might be the best time to strike up a deal. As for this season, maybe keeping Frazier in a utility role might help his value as he could show he is capable of playing multiple positions still after exclusively playing second base in 2019.