Why Todd Frazier, a possible target for the Yankees, also makes sense for the Red Sox
Boston could use a righty-swinging infielder with pop
God knows when another signing of note will happen, but veteran third baseman Todd Frazier may wind up back with the Yankees. He proved a popular presence on the roster last season after a July trade brought him to the Bronx, and most importantly, the Jersey native also addresses a near-term positional need. Frazier, though, also makes sense for another team, one often mentioned in tandem with those Yankees -- the Boston Red Sox. Here's why that's the case ...
1. Frazier can probably handle second base.
Frazier has just a sliver of time at second base in the majors, but in the minors he played more than 300 innings there. Increasingly, though, teams are viewing him as a potential solution at the keystone. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post explained not long ago, Frazier fared so well while covering second base territory during infield overshifts that the idea of his manning second on a semi-regular basis gained currency.
Speaking of which, the Sox may have a need there. Stalwart second sacker Dustin Pedroia is presently sidelined after undergoing left knee surgery, and he's not expected back until late April or early May. Even then, though, he's a 34-year-old who's logged almost 13,000 innings at the position and who's endured all manner of knee, foot, and hamstring problems throughout his career. The idea that he's going to return to durability and effectiveness is probably driven by wishful thinking. So the Sox need not only someone to hold down the position until Pedroia returns, but they also need someone who can step in full-time if Pedroia suffers a setback or re-injures himself. Frazier can be that guy.
2. Frazier can help out elsewhere, too.
Frazier, of course, is a thumper from the right side of the plate. That means he'd pair nicely with the lefty bats at the infield corners in Boston -- first baseman Mitch Moreland and third baseman Rafael Devers. So Frazier should be in the Boston lineup anytime a lefty is starting for the opposition. As well, the Sox are all-in on near-term contention, and Frazier provides a hedge against Moreland's premature decline and Devers' struggles as he tries to adjust to the adjustments.
Speaking of hedges, the Sox right now have Hanley Ramirez penciled in as the primary DH. Last season, he put up an OPS+ of 95, which isn't adequate for a bat-only role such as his. Frazier can also be an option at DH. Yes, Ramirez is owed almost $23 million for the upcoming season, but the Sox are way too invested in success in the here and now to play someone just because of a big contract. Frazier isn't a true middle-of-the-order bat, but it's entirely possible he'll be more productive than Ramirez in the upcoming season.
3. The Sox need power, and Frazier has plenty of it.
The Boston offense in 2017 ranked last in the American League in home runs. Frazier, meantime, has cracked 102 homers over the last three seasons. Speaking of which, take a look at his spray chart over those last three seasons:
Frazier's mostly a pull hitter when he puts the ball hard and in the air, and that tendency of course plays well in Fenway Park.
Frazier will very likely be looking for a playing time guarantee, so the Sox would need to offer him that. Given his ability to be of use at four different positions -- second, third, first, and DH -- it won't be difficult to promise him a spot in the lineup on at least a semi-regular basis. An eventual signing of J.D. Martinez remains a strong possibility, but they'd probably already need to clear a path for Martinez via a trade. Make room for Martinez in the outfield, and there's not much in the way of usage overlap between him and Frazier. Plus there's the added bonus of depriving the Yankees -- Boston's chief rival in spirit and in the 2018 AL East race -- of Frazier's services.
Banking on health and adequate production from Pedroia and Ramirez while also banking on Devers' and Moreland's ability to handle same-side pitching is perilous for a contender. Frazier to some degree addresses all four of those Boston concerns in ways that, say, Deven Marrero plainly cannot.
Oh, and like pretty much everyone else, Frazier's available and looking for work.
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