The Pirates are discussing second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier in trades, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who adds that Frazier could be the next piece subtracted as the Bucs continue their aggressive teardown. The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel speculated this morning that another deal could be in the works as well (Twitter link).
Frazier, 29, is coming off a rough showing in 2020 that saw him bat .230/.297/.364 in 58 games. However, prior to that down season he was steadily an average or better performer both at the plate and with the glove. It’s worth noting, too, that Frazier shook off a disastrous start to the season and was trending upward in his production over the season’s second half. It’s an arbitrary endpoint, but over his final 30 games Frazier slashed .273/.368/.414 through 115 plate appearances with as many walks (13) as strikeouts (13).
Those numbers fall right in line with the career .279/.342/.420 batting line that Frazier carried into the 2020 season, and they serve as a rough approximation of what interested clubs could expect in trading for Frazier, who is still controlled for two more years. He’s set to earn $4.3MM in 2021 after avoiding arbitration earlier this winter, and the Pirates have been on a mission both to acquire as much young talent as they can in trades and, seemingly, to slash payroll to whatever extent possible. The Bucs have already traded Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon this winter. Remarkably, that leaves Frazier and his $4.3MM salary as the team’s second-most expensive player.
While there’s good reason for clubs in need of help at second base and/or in left field to show some interest in Frazier, the Bucs are also peddling a left-handed-hitting second baseman/outfielder at a time when the free-agent market offers comparable alternatives. Granted, it’s been a bullish market for some players (e.g. Jurickson Profar, Tommy La Stella), but we’ve also seen players with very comparable production to Frazier, such as Cleveland’s Cesar Hernandez, settle for lackluster deals (one year, $5MM in Hernandez’s case).
Among the unsigned second base options still on the market are Kolten Wong, Jonathan Schoop and Marwin Gonzalez. The left field market includes Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Nick Markakis and Brett Gardner, among others. Frazier’s $4.3MM salary is quite likely less than some of those players will command, but interested parties have open-market alternatives, which doesn’t help the Pirates’ cause in extracting maximum value.
At the end of the day, Frazier is still a somewhat versatile defender and solid hitter who rarely strikes out (career 13.6 percent). With two years of affordable club control remaining, he could certainly help a number of contending clubs, even if it’s more of a utility capacity than as a team’s everyday option at second base or in left field. Given the way the Pirates have operated to this point in the winter, it’d come as little surprise to see Frazier in a different uniform come Opening Day.