By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Clint Frazier’s time has come with the Yankees.
Or has it?
Frazier has been the Yankees’ version of their prodigal son the past four years. There is still that tiny sliver of apprehension to allow the budding 26-year-old to be a regular outfielder.
Brett Gardner remains a free agent, and the whispers continue about the Yankees not resigning him.
Aside from DJ LaMahieu, they haven’t pursued another big-ticket free agent.
GM Brian Cashman did sign 28-year-old minor-league journeyman Socrates Brito, who is viewed as a diamond in the rough.
Cahsman and the brass still may have some doubts, but they may finally have decided to give Frazier his due.
Over his four shortened seasons in pinstripes due to demotions and a concussion, Frazier ironically has totaled 162 games with 24 homers, 83 RBIs, .267 average and 170 strikeouts in 589 at-bats.
Those aren’t the kind of numbers you expect from a rising superstar, but they still have give the Yankees optimism.
With Frazier, it always has been about potential.
Frazier came from Cleveland for reliever Andrew Miller in the winter of 2016, and once-donned “Red Thunder (hat and bat speed) has apparently overcome his trials and tribulations of the past and has matured into the players the Yanks envisioned when they acquired him.
Frazier’s potential began to surface in the shortened season last year when he posted an 149 OPS and hit eight homers with 26 RBIS and a .267 average in 39 games. More importantly, Frazier put his previous fielding woes to bed with a Golf Glove nomination.
In 2019, Frazier’s Yankees’ days appeared to be numbered.
Frazier’s bat was an integral part of the Yankees’ offense, notably with a rash of injuries in the lineup. It wasn’t his 11 homers and 38 RBIs, but his consistent miscues in the field that cost him a June demotion.
He was one of the hottest names on the trade block last July, and seemed as safe a bet as Tom Brady in a Super Bowl to be traded. A 25-year-old outfielder with power despite a bad glove should be a no-brainer.
Yet, the Yankes didn’t pull the trigger. There still was the fear of trading a prospective five-tool player.
Even though that thought has become a distant memory, it is now in Frazier’s lap.
With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton seeing as much time on the disabled list –or even more — than in the lineup the past two years, Frazier now has the opportunity he and the Yanks have been waiting for.
By June, we should all find out if it has been worth it.