I like this signing a lot. Frazier has major holes in his game, no doubt. He's going to hit under .230 and he's going to strike out. However, he's also going to play a solid third base, he's going to hit home runs, he's going to get on base, and -- maybe most important -- his history suggests he'll be able to play more than 140 games.
Also, in seeing his attitude and his constant top-step enthusiasm with the Yankees this past October -- regardless of the score -- it's clear he will solve more problems at Citi Field than he will create, especially given the age of Sandy Alderson's roster...
For instance, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, while Frazier helped the Yankees on field, he also provided their young team with a much-needed sense of passion, confidence, baseball IQ, and fearlessness.
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 coaches and players he can trust to check in on teammates, report back, create dialogue, and help keep guys focused on specific information and goals.
The Mets clearly lacked this type of leadership last summer after trading Neil Walker, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson. 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 this season.
Technically, David Wright is still the team's Captain. However, his lack of presence on field will reduce his ability to lead in a way the team will need. Instead, as I wrote earlier this week, I expect Callaway to lean heavily on Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jay Bruce. He can now also lean on Frazier.
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
"No matter how much he might struggle at the plate, his love for the game is always there," it was explained to Sherman about Frazier, who played six seasons with Bruce in Cincinnati. "Todd's passion to figure out ways for his team to win never goes away."
In addition to his ability to inspire and lead, Frazier also fits in well with Alderson's approach to hitting, which tends to value people that 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 Adrian Gonzalez's ability to return to form alongside expectations for Dominic Smith.
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 would have been worth $10-12 million a season a few years ago, based on what insiders were saying about the market for over-30 infielders this past October.
That said, in October I said to expect Frazier to see multiple one- and two-year deals, which is exactly what ended up happening. Frazier reportedly had been seeking at least a three- or four-year deal. The fact that Alderson was able to acquire him for half price and half of the yearly commitment is pretty incredible.
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
In return for Frazier, Alderson saves money to be able to sign a pitcher, plus he gets a good eye, good glove, solid power, experience, a positive attitude, and a leader that will run toward the spotlight in a big market.
Why not Mike Moustakas?
Money, I guess... and Sandy Alderson not wanting to give up a draft pick and international pool money. Also, while I do believe the Mets had a clear path to sign Mike Moustakas, how long would it have continued to take to get a deal done? So, instead, Alderson locked in the two-year deal to bring in Frazier at half the 2018 money and probably less of a time commitment.
Why not Eduardo Nunez or Neil Walker?
Frazier is a better bet to play 140 games.
The buzz all winter has been that teams are concerned about Nunez's legs, specifically his knee. Similarly, while Walker looked healthy last season, he has a history of back issues and those tend to return in other ways.
Frazier, on the other hand, has played at least 140 games during each of his previous five seasons. The same can be said for Jay Bruce, by the way.
So, if you think about this from the perspective of pain and consistency (which was the big issue in Queens last summer), having Frazier and Bruce will allow the Mets to run out the same two power hitters for 140 games. That's huge, especially when you consider question marks surrounding Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.
Walker or Nunez could have meant keeping Asdrubal Cabrera at third base, where he's less hurtful with his glove. However, the NY Post recently reported that Cabrera didn't feel comfortable playing third and, instead, wanted to be at second base this coming season. I'm pretty sure Alderson and his staff feel the other way.
For what it's worth, now that Frazier and the Mets are out of the market, I predict Nunez goes back to the Red Sox or Braves, Walker ends up on a one-year deal with the Yankees, and Moustakas returns to Kansas City, where he won't be able to have draft pick and pool money compensation tied to him next winter.
At the end of the day, though, maybe they concluded -- for the money -- it's better to have four guys on the infield that are happy where they're playing, trusting in one another other and working as a unit than it is to build an infield based solely on fielding statistics from a year ago...
What happens next?
The Mets are keeping an eye on Jason Vargas, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and other available starting pitchers, SNY contributor and former Mets GM Jim Duquette said last week.
I recently talked to three rival talent evaluators about Cobb and Lynn and all three said they would prefer Cobb in a rotation with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
That said, MLB insiders expect one of them will be forced to take a two- or three-year deal and less than $15 million per season. In that scenario, at that level commitment, the Mets would be fine either way...
My hunch is these two will hold out longer than Alderson is willing to wait (and compete). There is an eager group of teams looking at Cobb and Lynn, such as the Brewers, Yankees, Nationals, and others, and they're all waiting on Yu Darvish and Jake Arietta to make a decision on where they plan to play in 2018. Meanwhile, pitchers and catchers are required to begin workouts next Tuesday.
As a result, I get the feeling Alderson will jump the market and sign Vargas to a one-year deal and let the rest of the league wait around for Cobb and Lynn. It's possible Alderson can bait Cobb or Lynn by overpaying a bit, but that has never been his style. In fact, his style is quite the opposite.
In addition to Vargas or Cobb or Lynn, I also expect the Mets to bring in two or three veteran pitchers willing to accept minor league deals and invitations to spring training.
For instance, if free-agent pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez is forced to sign a minor-league deal, which is looking likely, I hear he's intrigued about reuniting with Mickey Callaway and joining the Mets. FanGraphs.com projects 1.6 WAR for Jiminez, who can pitch in relief or be a starting pitcher, which would make him a terrific low-risk, high-reward get in the days before pitchers and catchers...
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...