Last night, the Yankees announced they optioned outfielder Clint Frazier and right-handed reliever Ben Heller to their alternate training site. The club plans to bring right-handers Nick Nelson and Brooks Kriske up to the active roster in their stead. They’ll add a pair of fresh arms to a pitching staff that saw James Paxton work just one-plus inning in Saturday’s loss to the Nationals.
So continues Frazier’s repeated journeys on and off the big league roster. The onetime top prospect has been decent offensively, albeit with some high-profile defensive issues, when he’s gotten MLB opportunities (career .254/.308/.463 line in 429 plate appearances). Still, he’s had a hard time cracking a loaded Yankees outfield.
Due to his immense power potential, the 25-year-old has long been rumored as a potential trade candidate. Thus far, the organization has expressed little interest in giving him up. Given the club’s competitive outlook, though, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his name floated in rumors again this season. Yesterday’s demotion doesn’t suggest the organization has soured on Frazier long-term, but it does underscore the difficulty for him in carving out an immediate, significant role in the Bronx.
Nelson and Kriske, meanwhile, will each make their MLB debut if/when they get into a game. Each posted strong strikeout and run prevention numbers in Double-A in 2019, albeit with slightly elevated walk rates.