Todd Frazier is awesome. He is one of the most exciting and fun players to watch in recent Reds memory. Frazier brings an incredible passion for the game, and you can always recognize that Frazier really wants to win. The fans in Cincinnati have really embraced Frazier as their star. He was even named the Cincinnati Reds Spokesperson for the 2015 All-Star Game.

While the intangibles of Frazier are good, what makes him great are the tangibles. Frazier has legitimately been one of the top five hitters in baseball this season.

Todd Frazier 2015 MLB Rank
Extra Base Hits 42 1st
HR 22 t-2nd
SLG .639 3rd
OPS 1.000 4th
wRC+ 172 4th
fWAR 3.8 6th

While 2015 has certainly been a breakout year for Frazier, this hasn’t in any way been his only great season. In 2014, Frazier was an All-Star, and lead the Reds with 4.8 fWAR. He has been an above average hitter in every season in the big leagues, posting wRC+ of 121, 100, 122, 172 through his first four seasons in the big leagues.

What has taken the major jump for Frazier this year has been the power. Frazier has already surpassed last season HR total of 20, and is on pace to hit 55 HR. If Frazier kept up with his ridiculous pace, he would end the season with the most HR in Reds history, passing George Foster’s mark of 52 back in 1977 (the year that Foster won the NL MVP).

So why would the Reds look to trade one of the best players in the game? The answer is that in order to a start a rebuild, they need to get a big return.

Todd Frazier’s stock will never be higher than it is right now. The Reds have Frazier under control through 2017, at a very team friendly contract ($4.5 mil in 2015, $7.5 mil in 2016, arbitration eligible for 2017). Any team that believes they will be in contention over the next three seasons would love to have Frazier for that price with the production he will likely bring.

The Reds would love that production too, but perhaps it will not mean much. The Reds are most likely going to lose Cueto, Chapman, and Leake before the 2016 season starts. That means the Reds probably aren’t going to be very good in 2016 (with a potential rotation of DeSclafani, Iglesias, Lorenzen, and fill-in two others until Bailey returns from Tommy John Surgery). The Reds do have a lot of good young talented pitchers like the three mentioned above, plus Robert Stepehnson, Nick Travieso, Sal Romano, and Amir Garrett in the minor leagues. The problem is that it will take a while for all of these young pitchers to develop into a good starting rotation for the Reds.

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Now back to Todd Frazier. He will be 30 years old on 2016 Opening Day. If the Reds decided to sign Frazier past his current contract, he would be 32 years old when a new contract begins. Players rarely get better after they turn 32 years old, as demonstrated in the graph below. That gets even worse when a good portion of the players value comes from his power, which is true in Frazier’s case.


Todd Frazier’s price tag keeps going up and up. FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal wrote that Frazier will likely cost the Reds $10 million for his arbitration year, plus $20 million per season after. Frazier is obviously going to want a contract of at least more than five years (he would surely be able to get that elsewhere). That means a five year contract + his arbitration year would cost the Reds around $110 million. Frazier might want ever more than five years, so you could be looking at a contract of $150 million or more.

So if the Reds keep Frazier, what is the reward? They would get the remainder of this season, 2016, and 2017, and he would likely be a very good player. However, the chances of the Reds being good over those years and that mattering is slim. If you are keeping him now, you certainly would be trying to keep him past 2017 then. So the Reds would sign a player at 32 years old for very big chunk of change, who will likely begin his first year of the contract in a decline.

So if the Reds trade Frazier, what is the reward? The Reds would likely get a big return for Frazier. Any team in contention this year, or believes they will be in contention in 2016 and 2017 would love to have an elite level player in his prime for a very friendly contract. The Reds would get some very good prospects (or one great prospect) back in return, and set themselves up nicely for the future.

Royals fans surely weren’t thrilled when their Cy Young award winning pitcher Zack Greinke was traded at the time. However, I am sure they are alright with it now that they have their leadoff hitter and top-10 MLB SS Alcides Escobar, and their #3 hitter and top-3 MLB CF Lorenzo Cain. You have to give something up of good value in order to get something great back.

Maybe the trade market for Frazier isn’t as great as I think it is. If that is the case, than hold on to Frazier, and maybe revisit the thought of trading him in the off-season. But, if the Reds aren’t even shopping this guy to see what kind of offers are out there, they are doing a major disservice to this teams future. I would absolutely hate to see such a great and exciting player go, but I would much rather the Reds have a solid future.


All statistics are used courtesy of Fangraphs, ESPN Stats and Info, and Baseball-Reference (including Baseball-Reference Play Index), and include games played through 6/18/15.