Pittsburgh Pirates: Reviewing the Adam Frazier Trade

Apr 26, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Jack Suwinski (65) warms up before making his major league debut gainst the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Jack Suwinski (65) warms up before making his major league debut gainst the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded the National League starting all-star second baseman Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres at the 2021 trade deadline. But how does the trade look now?

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded then All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier to the San Diego Padres over a year ago. The Bucs acquired three players who were prospects at the time of the trade, two of which have already graduated prospect status. Now that three of the four players in this deal have played with their respective teams, how has the trade aged since the 2021 deadline?

At the time of the deal, Adam Frazier was in the midst of a career season. Up until the trade, Frazier was batting .324/.388/.448 with a .363 wOBA and 124 wRC+. The second baseman was walking at a career-high 8.2% walk rate with a career-best 10.7% strikeout rate. Frazier was fresh off starting in the All-Star game as well.

The headliner of the deal was Tucupita Marcano. Marcano ranked top 10 in what was still a relatively robust system, as they still had C.J. Abrams, Mackenzie Gore, and James Wood. Marcano was stationed at Triple-A, where he was slashing .273/.366/.442 with a .351 wOBA and 103 wRC+. Marcano had made his debut earlier that season, skipping High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A before reaching the major leagues. Known for his plate discipline and hand-eye coordination, the only tool Marcano lacked was power.

On the complete other end, you had Jack Suwinski. The outfield prospect was batting .269/.398/.551 with a .412 wOBA and 150 wRC+ with the Padres’ Double-A affiliate. Suwinski was hitting for his fair share of power, hitting 15 dingers in just 267 plate appearances and posting a .282 isolated slugging percentage. He was walking at a 16.9% rate but also striking out 28.6% of the time.

The final prospect in the deal was Michell Miliano. The relief prospect struck out 59 batters in just 30 innings. But he also allowed 25 free passes and 12 earned runs. Miliano was more of a throw-in as a work-in-progress than a player the Pirates were likely highly seeking in the deal, but still, an arm that, if he could ever lock his command down, could be a highly effective reliever.

Frazier did not have a great time in San Diego. He slashed a rubbish .267/.327/.335 in 211 plate appearances. He was still only striking out 10.9% of the time, but his walk rate had dipped to just 6.2%. Frazier has never been a power hitter, but his .068 isolated slugging percentage was low, even for him. He did provide solid defense at second base and left field, but overall, he was just a .293 wOBA, 86 wRC+ bat.

Although he did not do great in San Diego, his time spent there was not long. The Padres had a logjam up the middle with Fernando Tatis Jr., Ha-Seong Kim, and Jake Cronenworth, so they subsequently decided to ship Frazier to the Seattle Mariners. In return, the Friars received Ray Kerr and Corey Rosier. Neither Kerr nor Rosier was considered ranked prospects in Seattle’s system at the time. In the end, it was essentially a salary dump, given the amount of payroll the Padres already had to deal with.

Even though he wasn’t the headliner of the deal, Jack Suwinski ended up having the better rookie season. The outfielder turned in a respectable .202/.298/.411 slash, .311 wOBA, and 100 wRC+. Suwinski was tied with Michael Harris of the Atlanta Braves in rookie home runs with 19. His 11% walk rate was strong, as was his .209 isolated slugging percentage. Overall, he was roughly league average with the stick but provided the Bucs with a plus outfield glove. Suwinski had +2 defensive runs saved, +1 out above average, and a +7.8 UZR/150 between all three outfield positions. He was on pace for nearly 3.0 fWAR through 600 plate appearances.

Marcano could have had a better first look with the Pirates. He batted just .206/.256/.406 with a .249 wOBA, and 57 wRC+. Marcano only drew walks at 5.6% of the time with a sub-par 24.9% strikeout rate, both of which were highly atypical for Marcano, at least based on his minor league numbers. But he did do strong at Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indy, posting a .861 OPS, .370 wOBA, and 126 wRC+ in 241 plate appearances.

The Pirates capitalized on Adam Frazier’s trade value at the time and look to have the better end of the deal. It was quite a confusing trade at the time for San Diego. With Cronenworth, Tatis Jr., Kim, and top prospect C.J. Abrams making a move for one of the top middle infield trade candidates at the time did not make much sense for the Padres. Frazier’s first-half production was highly unsustainable. He didn’t change much in terms of hard-hit rate, exit velocity, or his batted ball profile, yet he was well above league average. It was only a matter of time until the rug was swept out from under him.

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Suwinski will be part of the Pirate Opening Day roster, as well as Marcano. Not only are they both going to be part of the team’s roster, but they could also be part of the same Opening Day line-up. With second base still up in the air, Marcano could have the keystone to himself, at least to start the 2023 season.