4:49 pm: Frazier has been placed on release waivers, but he has not yet cleared, tweets MLBTR’s Steve Adams. The waiver period expires tomorrow, so it remains possible another team grabs Frazier off the wire. If he passes through unclaimed, he’ll hit free agency.
4:05 pm: New York announced they’ve released both Frazier and Rougned Odor, who was also designated for assignment last week. Odor hit .202/.286/.379 across 361 plate appearances with the Yankees this past season. The Rangers will remain on the hook for almost all of his $12.33MM salary for 2022, per the terms of the teams’ April trade.
The 2021 season proved to be a brutal one for Frazier, a former first-round pick and top prospect whom the Yankees acquired from Cleveland as part of their return for lefty Andrew Miller. Frazier looked like a breakout candidate from 2019-20 when he posted a combined .267/.347/.497 batting line with 20 homers, 20 doubles and a triple in 465 plate appearances. However, he appeared in just 66 games this season and tallied 218 plate appearances with a woeful .186/.317/.317 output in that time.
More concerning than his bottom-line performance, however, were persistent health issues that still remain somewhat vague and unclear to the public. Frazier has had a concussion in 2018 and has since spent time on the injured list for blurred vision, dizziness and other vertigo-like symptoms. He pulled himself from a minor league rehab assignment this summer, after which manager Aaron Boone told reporters that Frazier was “not quite feeling where he needed to be.” He didn’t return to the field thereafter.
Precisely what has bothered Frazier, however, hasn’t been fully clear. The Yankees were typically vague with updates, and Frazier himself tweeted on Oct. 11 that the injury issues have been “very personal to me and something I’ve wanted to handle privately.” There’s no sense in speculating as to the root of the issue, but the obvious hope is that any maladies that have troubled the clearly talented 27-year-old can soon be put in the past.
With Frazier now reaching the market, he’ll be able to sign with any club. He still has three seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining, so Frazier will likely sign a one-year deal somewhere and, if all goes well, reenter the arbitration system with his new club. A rebuilding team with plenty of at-bats to offer could view Frazier as an appealing upside play — not entirely dissimilar from David Dahl an offseason ago. While the Dahl signing didn’t pan out in Texas, Frazier will surely have teams interested in a similar scenario — assuming he’s in good health.
Prior to his MLB debut, Frazier ranked among the 50 best prospects in the game on most notable lists. He’s a career .262/.333/.471 hitter in 934 Triple-A plate appearances, and Frazier entered the 2021 season as a career .258/.331/.475 hitter in 589 MLB trips to the plate.