The New York Yankees took another important step on their quest to assemble an all-beef lineup by trading for dinger-mashing DH Edwin Encarnacion over the weekend. Once Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton return to action, a lineup featuring those two, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and Encarnacion is going to scare a lot of people. No additional fright will be provided by Clint Frazier, though, because he just got sent down to the minors.
The Yankees had to free up a roster spot to make room for Encarnacion, and Frazier ended up being the guy who had to pay the price. It’s a startling thing, to see a 24-year-old who is slashing .283/.330/.513 with 11 homers find himself without a major-league roster spot, but such is life when you end up in an organization with an all-consuming desire for star power. The circumstances didn’t seem to lessen the sting for Frazier, who was visibly upset when talking about his demotion after yesterday’s game:
It’s been a weird few seasons for Frazier in New York, who arrived as a heralded prospect as part of the Andrew Miller trade, became a bit of a lightning rod before even getting regular playing time, missed most of last season with to concussion symptoms, and just recently had it out with the media after a particularly poor defensive performance. Despite all of that, Frazier was playing good baseball (defensive lapses aside), and probably felt like he was finally establishing himself at the major-league level. Now he’s back at the starting line.
Even accepting the premise that Encarnacion’s arrival, along with the imminent returns of Judge and Stanton, requires that some tough roster decisions be made, it’s still a little strange to see Frazier be the first one singled out. He’s been sent down ahead of Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin, and Mike Tauchman, all of whom have various qualities that I’m sure Aaron Boone wants on his roster, but none of whom are anywhere close to Frazier in terms of talent and potential. According to Boone, Frazier’s pedigree is exactly what qualified him for demotion, because the team wants him to get regular at-bats:
That’s all fine and good, but at some point the value of guaranteeing Frazier regular at-bats can be outweighed by adding yet another item to his list of grievances against the franchise. Frazier did not look like a guy who is thrilled to be a part of the Yankees organization yesterday, and when he was asked about the possibility of being traded, he didn’t seem to be entirely opposed to the idea. “I’ve been traded once, so, you know, who knows. I can’t control that, I just try to play as good as I can to try and put myself in a good position,” he said.
Let this be the beginning of the Free Clint Frazier movement. We can all just accept that the Yankees would love to ship Frazier out for some starting pitching and get this show on the road. Frazier needs a new team that will appreciate his red locks and mighty bat.