Pittsburgh Pirates: AL West Team to Watch for Adam Frazier

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Adam Frazier #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during game one of a double header against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Adam Frazier #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during game one of a double header against the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier could be on the Seattle Mariners radar as they are in the market for an infielder.

Barring something unforeseen happening, the Pittsburgh Pirates will trade Adam Frazier at some point in the next nine days. There’s plenty of value to be had for the second baseman as he is controllable through 2022, can play multiple positions, and is having a career year with the bat.

In the most recent rumors floating around the baseball world, the Seattle Mariners will be looking for some infield help. This could lead them to showing some interest in the Pirate infielder and All-Star.

Frazier has been one of the best offensive second basemen in the sport this year. Through his first 408 plate appearances of the season Frazier is batting .326/.390/.454 with a .368 wOBA, and 131 wRC+. Frazier is walking at a near career-high 8.1% rate while striking out at a career-low 11% rate.

Much of his strong offensive performances stems from his 30.4% line drive rate, the highest in all of baseball. Plus, his 36.6% ground ball rate ranks as the 27th lowest in the league. The only second baseman to outpace Frazier in wOBA and OPS is Marcus Semien. In terms of wRC+, just Semien and Jose Altuve.

Though teams will be a bit skeptical about Frazier’s performance this year. Frazier’s xwOBA is just .334, a far cry from his actual mark. He has an expected batting line of .296/.365/.387. His xSLG is the biggest separation in actual performance vs expected performance. He also has a DRC+ of 116. While if he does regress to a wRC+ around 115, he’s still a well above average hitter, teams aren’t going to be paying for a 135 wRC+. Plus you have to consider this kind of production is unprecedented for the 29-year-old. From 2016 to 2020, he was a roughly league-average hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates posting a .273/.336/.413 line, .323 wOBA, and 100 wRC+.

Frazier was an outstanding defender in 2019 and 2020. Between the two seasons, he racked up +11 Defensive Runs Saved at the keystone position with a 5.1 UZR/150, and +1.5 range runs above average. Outs Above Average were the fondest of Frazier with +21. He had the 6th highest OAA mark in all of baseball between 2019 and 2020.

Though this season he’s been an average to below-average defender at second base. He has a 0 DRS, but -5.9 UZR/150, -2 range runs above average, and 0 OAA. Frazier also provides some versatility in the outfield where he has +7 DRS, a +1.5 UZR/150, and +2.9 range runs above average in 998.1 innings at all three positions.

Though despite his underlying numbers, there’s still a very solid player in Frazier who can provide 2-3 WAR a season. Even if he regresses, he’ll still be an above average hitter. He’s also very dependable in terms of health. There’s little worry that he’ll hit the injured list multiple times, if at all in a season. You know what you’re getting with Frazier. Plus Ben Cherington isn’t going to let go of what could be one of the top 5 players on the trade market for less than what is fair. So far, he really hasn’t made a bad trade. The chances the Pittsburgh Pirates are able to get more than what Frazier is worth are higher than him getting less than what he is worth.

The Mariners have been a surprise team this year. They are 50-44 and currently in a situation that the Pittsburgh Pirates could be in within the next year or so. Many of their top prospects are making their way to the big leagues. While not all of them are here yet, they have a boatload of talent they should see between now and 2023.

Now the Mariners have gotten very little production from their second basemen. So far, Seattle second basemen own a .192/.257/.352 line, .267 wOBA, and extremely poor 71 wRC+. They rank next to last in wRC+, wOBA, and OPS. Only Baltimore Orioles’ second basemen rank lower than M’s second basemen in those three stats, and they’re also tied in last in fWAR at -.4.

The Mariners would also make a good trade partner for the Pirates. They currently have 6 prospects in the top 100 on FanGraphs’ list. Before the draft, they were ranked 3rd among all farm systems, right behind the Bucs who were ranked at #3. This gives them a decent amount of prospects the Pirates could potentially acquire. While the Bucs likely aren’t going to get a Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, or Logan Gilbert in a trade, there are plenty of other players that should intrigue the Pirates.

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The match makes sense. The Seattle Mariners are in the market for an infielder and their weakest position is second base. The Pittsburgh Pirates are selling a second baseman who is arguably one of the top 3 position players on the trade market.

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