On Sunday the New York Yankees optioned outfielder Clint Frazier to Triple-A. It didn’t exactly sit well with the 24-year-old outfielder, who was hitting .283/.330/.513 in 53 games this season for the Yankees. But with the acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion, and having Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge both on rehab assignments and nearing return, there’s not going to be much playing time for Frazier.
Before the 2017 season, Clint Frazier was rated as high as the #16 prospect in all of minor league baseball (Baseball Prospectus). He lost his prospect eligibility later that season. The now former top prospect is back in the minors, not exactly happy, and doesn’t have an immediate clear path back to the Major Leagues. And the New York Yankees are a team that is competing, but still has needs.
The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, have a starting right fielder who is a pending free agent after the season is over and don’t have an immediate answer for the position, either. Frazier is outhitting every Reds outfielder on the team. Easily. And he would come with plenty of team control if acquired, too.
The Reds have some options for corner outfield spots. They’ve played Jesse Winker in right field. And that could be the move in the future if Taylor Trammell winds up being the third outfielder, who is seemingly going to be a left-fielder only (he’s only played in left this season for Double-A Chattanooga, and right field has never been an option because of his arm strength). Aristides Aquino is currently crushing the baseball in Triple-A. So is Brian O’Grady. And Josh VanMeter, currently on the big league roster, did the same before his call up, too. And then there’s also Jose Siri.
There are options in the outfield for the Reds. But are any of them projected to be better ones than Clint Frazier? That’s a tougher question to answer, but right now, none of them are close to being better. Frazier has shown he can be a well above-average Major League hitter at 24-years-old already.
There should be interest by the Reds in a player like Clint Frazier. But the question is, do the Reds have much of interest for the Yankees? They currently lead the American League East by a half-game over the Rays, and are up 5.5 games on the Red Sox. They have a good pitching staff overall. The bullpen can be downright dominant. But their rotation has been a bit hit-and-miss. And the rumors have been that the Yankees have been looking for starting pitching.
The Reds have two impending free agent starting pitchers. However, Alex Wood probably has next to no trade value at all right now given that he’s on the injured list and hasn’t thrown a single pitch all season long. Then there’s Tanner Roark. He’s posted a 3.63 ERA in 74.1 innings this season with 27 walks and 74 strikeouts. He’s not a “sexy” name, but he’s been a well above-average pitcher this season. And it’s very likely he could help the Yankees rotation – where they only have four starting pitchers right this second.
But, for all of the good that Roark has done this season, he’s not going to carry a trade for Clint Frazier. The Reds would have to add to it. And probably quite a bit. Whether that would be by tossing in a high quality prospect, or maybe a Major League piece (bullpen perhaps?), it’s tough to know. But if nothing else, the Cincinnati Reds front office should be on the phone trying to see what it would cost. Now is the time to try and pounce on adding a long-term, talented outfielder.