Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Adam Frazier Trade With The Yankees


The Pittsburgh Pirates have an ample amount of infield depth. Adam Frazier looks like the odd man out and the New York Yankees could make a good trade partner.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been listening on offers on Adam Frazier for a while now. The Pittsburgh Pirates have many different middle infielders. Erik Gonzalez, who the club recently avoided arbitration with, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman and Phillip Evans are all capable of playing second base or shortstop. With Fraizer having just two years of control remaining, he seems to be the odd man out.

In 2020, Frazier posted weak batting numbers with a .230/.297/.364 line and 81 wRC+ through 230 plate appearances. Frazier, like always, was a better hitter in the second half of the season. Through his first 111 plate appearances, Frazier had a .198/.234/.330 line and 50 wRC+. However, his last 123 plate appearances yielded a .271/.361/.402 line and 112 wRC+.

From 2016 to 2019, Frazier was a slightly above league average bat. His slashline was .279/.342/.420 with a 103 wRC+ and .327 wOBA. While he only posted a .140 isolated slugging percentage and hit 28 long balls, Frazier rarely struck out. His 13.4% strikeout rate throughout these seasons ranked 22nd among all batters with at least 1500 plate appearances. Although this did come with a mediocre 7.4% walk rate. Plus his average exit velocity has never been over 88 MPH in a single season. He averaged 88 MPH in 2018, which is his career high.

However, it’s Frazier’s glove that makes him an interesting trade chip. In the past two seasons, the keystone defender has been a Gold Glove finalist. He has +3 DRS, 2.1 range runs above average and a 5.1 UZR/150. He’s also consistently ranked among the best in outs above average.

In 2019, his +11 OAA ranked 19th in all of baseball and in 2020, he ranked 8th with +6 OAA. Fernando Tatis Jr. was the only other middle infielder to have more OAA in 2020. Frazier also has plenty of experience in the outfield where he’s ranked as a positive defender. In 987 innings in the grass, Frazier has +9 DRS, a 1.5 UZR/150 and 2.9 range runs above average. Overall, he averaged about 2.2 fWAR per 600 plate appearances throughout his career. This would make him a fantastic utility player on most teams and someone who could start on a handful of others.

Frazier’s versatility makes him a piece that could fit many teams, one of which could be the New York Yankees. The Yankees could lose DJ LeMahieu to free agency. LeMahieu has put up MVP-level numbers the last two seasons, hitting .336/.386/.536 with 36 home runs and a 146 wRC+ through 871 plate appearances. Not only has he given them an outstanding performance with the bat, but he’s been a plus defender at second base, third base and first base.

Now granted, Frazier would be a downgrade from LeMahieu, but Frazier’s bat would play up in Yankee Stadium. Plus, LeMahieu was a contact hitting second baseman before arriving in New York. From 2015 to 2018, LeMahieu had a 101 wRC+ and averaged 2.5 fWAR per 600 plate appearances. While he did have a higher exit velocity and better wOBA, there are similarities. Also, with Frazier’s ability to handle the outfield, he would give the Yanks some insurance in case the oft injured Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton miss any chunks of time.

In return for Frazier, one player that the Pittsburgh Pirates could target is pitcher Roansy Contreras. A 21-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, Contreras has an ETA of 2021 on FanGraphs but given the lack of playing time in 2020 and his age, a 2022 ETA is more realistic. That fits the window of 2022-2023 the Pittsburgh Pirates are aiming for a handful of their prospects to start appearing in the Majors.

In 2019, Contreras pitched 132.1 innings with the Yankees’ Single-A team. He put up solid numbers including a 3.33 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 1.06 WHIP. He also had a 3.80 xFIP. Contreras didn’t put up any sort of eye popping strikeout rates with his strikeout rate at just 21.1%, but made up for it with a 6.7% walk rate and 0.68 HR/9. He was also effective in 2018. It was a much smaller sample size of 63.1 innings, but he had a strong 2.24 ERA, 3.38 FIP and 1.02 WHIP between Low-A and High-A.

Contreras throws three pitches. The first is his fastball, and it’s one the Pittsburgh Pirates would probably like. He doesn’t throw overwhelmingly hard. It averages out in the 92-95 MPH and tops out at 96 MPH. But for the lack of elite velocity, he makes up with an impressive spin rate of 2400 RPM, something the Pirates have focused on with many of their pitchers. FanGraphs gives it a current 50 grade and future 55 grade.

His best pitch, as described by MLB Pipeline, is his change up. He tosses this pitch in the mid-80s with heavy sink. Both Pipeline and FanGraphs see this as a future 55 grade pitch. His third offering is his breaking ball, a curve. While it might be the worst of his three pitches, it’s still an average pitch that has room for improvement. FanGraphs grades it as a 50 grade offering, but could improve to a third, 55 grade pitch.

Contreras has a feel for all three pitches, and can repeat his delivery, according to Pipeline. As a flyball pitch, he needs to improve his command, but scouts think he’ll be able to do so easily given his competitiveness and aptitude. Overall, he ranks as the 15th best prospect on FanGraphs’ Yankees list and 19th on Pipeline’s list. While he may never be an ace, Contreras has the stuff and attitude to be a quality major league arm.

While Contreras would be a nice centerpiece for Frazier, they probably could get at least another prospect. Albert Abreu would be a nice MLB ready piece. He’s a flamethrower with a handful of plus pitches, but does have some control issues. He has both high risk and high talent. A few other pitchers they might be interested in is Alexander Vizcaino, Yoendrys Gomez Osiel Rodriguez or T.J. Sikkema. If they wanted to target a bat with elite power potential, they could ask about outfielders Anthony Garcia and Ryder Green.

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This trade would help the Pittsburgh Pirates add a solid young arm to their prospect corps while clearing up some room in the middle infield. Tahnaj Thomas, Cody Bolton, Brennan Malone, Quinn Priester and Carmen Mlodzinski rank within their 15 best prospects, but you can never have too much pitching depth. Plus getting another piece for Frazier would be another good add. Freeing up some middle infield time for Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman or Phillip Evans is also something the Pirates need to do this winter.