For all that hype, Frazier has yet to stick in pinstripes.
And despite a recent rash of injuries to the likes of Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton, Frazier has been repeatedly passed up for a promotion by the decimated Bombers since his June 16 demotion, leaving the tantalizing 24-year-old outfielder trapped at Triple-A Scranton.
Asked if the Yankees gave any consideration to promoting Frazier after Hicks was placed on the injured list with a right flexor strain on Sunday, manager Aaron Boone said simply: “No. No.”
In 53 games with the Yankees prior to being sent down, Frazier produced 11 homers and an .843 OPS, showing his prowess at the plate. But he was a disaster in the field, posting a staggering negative-seven defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs.
The organization believes he isn’t a finished product at this point.
“You haven’t finished off yet,” one team official told Frazier at the time of his demotion. “Finish off the things you need to do, and you’re going to have a long career in the big leagues.”
As of now, the Yankees feel they have better outfield options in mainstays Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner; superior defender Mike Tauchman (who has also delivered at the plate); and veteran Cameron Maybin (ditto Tauchman), who is out of options.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Frazier said at the time of his demotion, which came as a result of the Yankees acquiring Edwin Encarnacion and sticking with Tauchman, who came into Sunday with an .869 OPS. “It’s never fun, especially with how much I feel like I’ve contributed to the team this year.”
Meanwhile, Mike Ford was promoted from the minors to give the Yankees additional depth at first base given the injuries to Encarnacion (fractured wrist) and Luke Voit (sports hernia). Other Yankee infielders dealing with nagging injuries include DJ LeMahieu (groin), Didi Gregorius (finger) and Gio Urshela (ankle). LeMahieu played in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, leaving the team to give him Sunday off.
Ford has also produced a 1.007 OPS at Triple-A Scranton, compared to Frazier’s .772.
“If he was the best option, he’d be up here,” the team official told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not about being passed over. It’s logistics. Tauchman is a better defender.”
The Yankees, however, have not soured on Frazier — even though outside sources have suggested otherwise. “He can’t play defense, and they don’t like him,” one source said.
Yet the Bombers — despite an obvious need for starting pitching — wouldn’t move him in trade packages for the likes of Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman or Robbie Ray, according to sources. Noah Syndergaard would’ve been a different story, but the Mets weren’t interested in Frazier, sources said.
The Yankees ultimately struck out, with Cashman and the rest of the team’s front office left to hope that Luis Severino can come back from a lat injury that has kept him out all season, and other internal options like James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka can return to form.
Frazier has been a lightning rod in New York, seemingly ever since the length of his hair — which was against long-held Yankee policy — took over the back pages of the city’s tabloids during spring training in 2017. He has continued to joust with reporters ever since, claiming unfair treatment. His 2018 season was unfortunately upended by concussion issues.
“Here’s Clint in a nutshell: Big heart, but he’s got a lot to learn. And he wants to be a big star before he’s ready to,” said one baseball insider.
Frazier has been advised by the PR staff to cool it and be accommodating with the media, sources said.
“I know some people have thought he’s fallen out of favor and we’re sending him down there and trying to send a message — none of that’s true,” Boone told WFAN recently. “Clint has worked his butt off. He’s obviously played an important role for our team. When that right spot or situation opens up where he can become a regular player for us, then he very much gets back into that conversation.”
Service-time issues have not been a consideration for Frazier sticking in the minors, sources said.
“He’s not being condemned to Triple-A,” the team official added.
Yet who would’ve ever thought the Yankees, in Game No. 110 of their regular season, would be starting an outfield featuring Tauchman, Gardner and Maybin, with Frazier unable to vault the corner guys on the depth chart.
Cashman has done a terrific job of building a homegrown core and augmenting it by finding diamonds in the rough with untapped potential. He’s also been excellent at dealing prospects that don’t amount to anything. But there have been Yankee prospects that haven’t lived up to their billing — guys like Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman.
The jury is still out on Clint Frazier.
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