The New York Yankees have been linked in trade discussions with the Pittsburgh Pirates over the last couple weeks, as early as the Winter Meetings, about right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole and utility man Josh Harrison. However, that’s not the move that they should be thinking about making. The next move should be re-signing Todd Frazier, not going after these two Pirates stars.
The Yankees rotation is honestly just fine right now, as they re-signed CC Sabathia to a one-year deal and have Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery rounding out the rotation. With that being said, there isn’t necessarily a big need for the addition of another starting pitcher, since they have prospects waiting in the minors and they could keep their prospects, including outfielder Clint Frazier.
Josh Harrison would be a great addition to the Yankees infield, as he can play everywhere around the diamond and also in the outfield, though they already have a surplus of outfielders. He could play second base or third base while the team waits for Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, but he would come at a cost, but prospect-wise and salary-wise. He’s owed $32.25 million over the next three seasons, which wouldn’t help the Yankees. New York is wanting to get under the $197-million payroll luxury tax ahead of the 2018 offseason, which will be stacked with a loaded free-agent class that will consist of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Todd Frazier was acquired in a blockbuster trade this past summer that netted the Yankees David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, as well. Frazier instantly became a clubhouse hit for the young Yankees roster. During their postseason run, after any big moment surrounding the team, cameras would always turn to him, whether it be him sporting his highly-acclaimed thumbs-down gesture or getting his teammates pumped up.
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reported Wednesday afternoon that interest does still remain between the two sides, but that there hasn’t been much talk between them due to the team wanting to stay below the luxury tax. According to the Associated Press, the team’s payroll currently stands somewhere around $178 million, which would mean they have about $21 million remaining, so they still need money left over for midseason call-ups and potential trades during the season.
Keep one thing in mind, though: Frazier loved being a member of that Yankees playoff team. He looked like a little kid in a candy shop when playing for them, like a rookie at some points. Frazier was the heartbeat of the Yankees. He kept them running, even with his rough play with them (.222/.365/.423 with 11 home runs and a .788 OPS), but he provided the team with that much-needed boost.
You probably know this by now, but he is a native of Toms River, New Jersey and made himself relevant back when he won a Little League World Series championship in 1998, then stood next to Derek Jeter as a little kid in an iconic photo.
Frazier has even openly said that he wants to re-sign with the team, as he told Kuty on December 16.
“I loved playing (with the Yankees), man,” Frazier said at Modell’s Sporting Goods in Toms River. “At the end of the day, I just want to play baseball. I would love to play for the Yankees. I would love to play for any team. Like I said, we’ve been talking. My agency has been doing a heck of a job talking to a lot of teams for me. We’ve got a lot of great talks and hopefully at the end, something comes to fruition soon.”
MLB Trade Rumors, which had the 31-year-old veteran ranked as the No. 17 free agent ahead of the offseason, had projected that Frazier getting a two-year, $33 million deal from the New York Mets. That would roughly put him at $16.5 million per season, but that would probably be outside of the Yankees’ price range.
A two-year deal would probably be not in the Yankees’ best interest, considering that they want to make a run at Manny Machado next winter and they have a number of infield prospects in the minors, if they don’t land Machado. With that being said, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Yankees to give Frazier a one-year deal that includes a club option for the 2019 season.
If Frazier wants to return to the Yankees in 2018, he would have to make somewhat of a compromise with the team, understanding that he’d probably be on to another team the next year. The re-signing of Frazier would bring back his huge veteran leadership and clubhouse presence.
Yes, the addition of a premier pitcher like Cole and a solid veteran infielder like Harrison would definitely better the Yankees’ chances of making it past the ALCS the next turn, but wouldn’t it be better for them to bring back a team leader like Todd Frazier and not give up top prospects like Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and Chance Adams?
Time will tell if the Yankees make the “right” move.