In an article for the NY Post, Joel Sherman argues that Sandy Alderson should aim to sign 3B Todd Frazier, who is set to become a free agent at the end of this season.
In 66 regular season games after being acquired by the Yankees this season, Frazier hit just .222, but had a .365 OBP with 11 HR and 32 RBI. He had 16 home runs with the White Sox before the trade, prior to which he hit just .207.
Frazier hit .235/.316/.294 in the Yankees' five-game ALDS victory over the Indians, but is hitting .333/.385/.667 so far in the ALCS against the Astros.
According to his former manager with the Reds, Bryan Price, Frazier's value to a team has as much to do with what he brings off field as it does with what he can do between the lines.
"His batting average is not as robust as some might like, but if you take a hard look at his intangibles, you get a better player than the numbers suggest," Price told Sherman.
For instance, according to Sherman, while Frazier is helping the Yankees on field, he is also providing their young team with a much-needed sense of passion, confidence, IQ, and fearlessness.
Oct 13, 2017; Frazier (29) against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Credit: Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
"No matter how much he might struggle at the plate, his love for the game is always there," Price added. "His passion to figure out ways for his team to win never goes away."
I have always considered Frazier an option for the Mets. However, after watching him during and after every postseason game this October, I agree with Sherman.
Frazier has major holes in his game. But in seeing his attitude and his constant top-step enthusiasm -- regardless of the score -- it's clear he will solve more problems at Citi Field than he will create, especially given the state of Alderson's roster.
The Mets clearly lacked leadership among their position players after trading Neil Walker, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson last season. I've talked to lots of people (be it players, reporters, team employees, coaches, etc.) and each agree that -- much like the Yankees in 2017 -- the Mets are going to need new, respected veterans in the clubhouse next year.
David Wright may be the team's official captain, but he and I have the same number of at-bats during the last 16 months... and I don't play baseball. The point is, it's difficult to be viewed as a team leader when you're not failing, succeeding, and grinding it out on field with your teammates every day. Wright is still respected, but his impact has been mostly limited to spring training.
Similarly, Yoenis Cespedes said a year ago that he intended to be more of a leader this past season. This was partially thrown off track by missing 81 games due to multiple leg injuries. However, even when healthy, Yo is not a distinct leader. He may drive amazing cars and be a powerhouse during the game, but he is clearly more more comfortable being a serious, soft spoken intellectual.
In that way, Cespedes reminds me a lot of Mike Piazza. Like Mike, Yo is a tremendous, inspiring, valuable force on field, but he leads mostly by example and not by being aware, checking in with guys, keeping people grounded, and giving pep talks.
Aug 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier (29) signs an autograph prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Like it or not, the type of a leader needed by the Mets is important to the success of any baseball team. In 2015, when the Mets got to the World Series, they were kept in check by Granderson, Walker, Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer, and Wright. The following year, Alderson lost Murphy and Cuddyer, but added Asdrubal Cabrera, followed by Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes. However, out of all the names mentioned above, Wright is the only one guaranteed to be in spring training next year.
In addition to operating without a group of veteran leaders, the team's young players will also be dealing with a new manager, who will likely bring with him at least a few new coaches.
In spring training a few years ago, I found myself in a conversation with legendary managers Joe Torre and Jim Leyland. They both said to be in the best position to succeed on field in New York (given everything that is required before and after each game), the manager must delegate and be surrounded by people he can trust to check in on teammates, report back, create dialogue, and help keep guys focused on specific information and goals.
In the absence of Granderson, Walker, Murphy, etc., and possibly Wright, I'm convinced that Frazier can be this type of lieutenant for Alderson's new field general.
"Frazier is a baseball gym rat, endlessly enthusiastic about the game, willing to be a spokesman, a well-regarded teammate," Sherman explains. "He carries himself like someone better than his skills, which makes him like bright lights, big cities, and huge spots."
In addition to his ability to inspire and lead, Frazier also fits in well with Sandy Alderson's approach to hitting, which tend to value people who draw walks and hit pitches in the strike zone for home runs (regardless of their batting average). Also, Frazier plays third and first base, which is helpful given the uncertainty surrounding Wright's health and the rookie status of Dominic Smith.
Oct 13, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier (29) throws to first base during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros during game one of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Frazier will be 32 years old on Opening Day. In addition to the above intangibles, he is a lock to drive in 70 runs, hit 15 doubles, and hit at least 25 home runs.
This level production is likely worth $10-15 million a season, based on what insiders tell me about the current market for over-30 infielders. Of course, if a team projects more production they will pay more for him.
In terms of commitment, I assume Frazier will want more than just a one-year contract. However, one year ago, position players didn't command the type of long-term deals that were once signed by Murphy and Ben Zobrist. Instead, every front office turned toward utility guys, instead spending the bulk of their money on relief pitching. I also hear spending may be down across baseball as the game gets ready for the highly anticipated free agent class of 2018.
Frazier has talked positively about playing in New York, which is roughly two hours from family and friends and where he grew up in New Jersey. The thing is, while I'm sure he likes being home, he's also been waiting more than a decade to shop himself as an unrestricted free agent. The fact is, this will be the first and last major contract he ever inks, so I seriously doubt he's going to rush the decision or sacrifice millions of dollars so he can more easily get to the Jersey shore.
That said, in this market and this winter, at his age, position and level of production, I see Frazier being offered multiple one- or two-year deals, possibly containing a team option and worth around $30 million. In return, his new team will get a good eye, decent glove, solid power, experience, a positive attitude, and a leader who will run toward the spotlight in a big market.
I hope the Mets see him as worth the price tag, because they're on track to need of every one of his attributes next season.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...