Second baseman Adam Frazier has long been talked about as a piece to be moved. This year’s deadline could be the time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to trade him.
Adam Frazier Has Long talked about as one of the top trade pieces for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s a bit surprising that he was still in a Pirate uniform entering the 2020 season given the amount of middle infield depth the Pirates have, as well as the trade rumors swirling around him in the off-season. But, Frazier’s days with the club may be numbered as we approach the trade deadline.
Frazier, a 6th round draft pick in 2013, made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016, and mainly worked as a utility man for the first three years of his career. Through the first two years of his career, Frazier batted for a solid, albeit unimpressive .283/.347/.402 line with eight home runs, a 99 OPS+ and 100 wRC+. This was all through 614 plate appearances.
Frazier mostly provided value in his athleticism. Not only was he a really good base runner with 4.1 base running runs above average, but he was moved around the diamond and played a super utility role for the team. He saw time at all three outfield spots, and second base. Though his overall defense in his first two years wasn’t anything to write home about, he still could hold his own at all the positions he played, while being a league average bat.
2018, so far, has been Frazier’s best year yet. Through 352 plate appearances, Frazier batted .277/.342/.456 with 10 home runs, a 116 wRC+ and 118 OPS+. Plus with decent defensive numbers at second base, including +4 DRS, 2.0 range runs above average,and 1.4 UZR, Frazier secured himself the starting second base job for 2019.
Last year, his bat more or less looked like it did in 2017. He registered a .277/.336/.417 line, 10 long balls, and 33 doubles. All told, his offense was worth 98 OPS+, and 97 wRC+ with a .320 wOBA. While he was a league average offensive player, his defense was far from the average.
At second, Frazier had +6 DRS, 2.9 UZR, 1.6 range runs above average, and, more importantly, +11 outs above average. Though he didn’t provide as much value on the base paths as before, he still was worth +0.7 base running runs above average.
Frazier is under control through the 2022 season through arbitration. So far, you can pretty much tell what kind of production you’re going to get out of Frazier. He’s a .280/.340/.420 batter who will sit in the 95-100 OPS+/wRC+ range. He’ll also provide above average defense at second base and the outfield.
Overall, that’s a 2.5 WAR player. That’s a starting level player, but not one who’s going to massively standout. But players like that still have value. He has gotten off to a slow start, but a slow start is nothing new for Frazier, and plenty of players are off to slow starts in 2020.
Currently, there’s a few teams that are in need of a second baseman. The Colorado Rockies are one team that many didn’t think would be as competitive as they have been, but so far they’ve been in the thick of a playoff race. But one of their weakest positions has been second base.
Ryan McMahon has only batted .217/.315/.307 with three extra base hits through his first 54 plate appearances of the season. While Garrett Hampson has been having a solid season and is an option at second base for the Rox, they’ve also seen the team struggle in left field and center field. Not only could Frazier be an option for the Rockies at second, but could occasionally slot over to left field. Plus, with the hitter friendly environment, they might also see Frazier’s power rise.
Another team that could be a potential landing spot in a trade is the San Diego Padres.
So far, Jurickson Profar has been getting regular reps at second base, but his 2018 season with the Rangers looks like a flash in the pan as the past two years haven’t been pretty. While Jake Cronenworth will likely slot over to second base when Eric Hosmer returns, Hosmer’s two seasons prior to 2020 have not been good. Plus with the injury history of guys like Wil Myers, Tommy Pham and Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres could always use someone like Frazier who could play anywhere.
One of the teams that has long been connected to Frazier is the Oakland A’s. Currently, Tony Kemp has been doing pretty good as their primary second baseman. While he hasn’t had an extra base hit, he does have a 50% on base percentage. Now granted, it is through 27 plate appearances, and Kemp doesn’t have much history of being a consistent on base threat. His OBP from 2016 to 2019 was just .314. The A’s don’t really have another bat to replace Kemp if he falls into a cold streak as Chad Pinder has struggled this year and in 2019, and Franklin Barreto has not lived up to the hype of being a former top 40 prospect.
Right now, I’d say these are the three teams that would show the most interest in Frazier at the deadline, but I could also see both New York teams showing a bit of interest. After all, they both have a handful of players with deep injury history. The Dodgers could lose two swiss army knife players of their own in Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez in the next two seasons, so maybe they could be interested in replacing them with Frazier. Though White Sox slugger Eloy Jimenez wants to stay in left field, his atrocious fielding is making it hard for the Sox to justify running him out there everyday. Possibly moving him to DH and trading for Frazier to be the left fielder for now, or as a late inning defensive replacement might be on the Sox radar. Plus he could serve as their second baseman for now until top prospect Nick Madrigal is back from injury, and ease him back as well.
Regardless, Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates know what they have in Frazier. He has an outstanding history of identifying talent, and so far has made some great moves as Pittsburgh Pirates general manager. Fans should have faith that he’ll get back all of Frazier’s value when he trades him.