On Sunday, the Yankees chose to option Clint Frazier to Triple A. On the surface, this seems reasonable given the recent acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion. However, do not overlook the message the Yankees are sending to the young outfielder. They could have optioned Mike Tauchman, a career Quad A player with no future with the team. They then could have optioned Frazier today upon the return of Giancarlo Stanton. This would have allowed Frazier a few extra days with the team to continue to build his confidence after his media meltdown from two weeks ago. Instead, the Yankees banished Frazier to the minors the first chance they had.
Everything is Calculated
Realistically, both Tacuhman and Frazier were going down this week. Logic would seem to suggest that the Yankees would give the courtesy of the two extra days to the prized prospect as opposed to the journeyman. Everything the Yankees and Brian Cashman do is highly calculated. Don’t think for a second that they didn’t deliberate long and hard before making this decision. The message is “You aren’t as important to us as Mike Tauchman.” Again, this is a significant message because Mike Tauchman is a journeyman Quad A player making the minimum. He is about as insignificant a player as there is in the Majors.
Clint is the classic polarizing player that divides Yankee fans down the middle. An outspoken millennial, Frazier flaunts his red hair and designer cleats with pride. He is active on social media and seems to crave attention constantly. Supporters of his are quick to defend his potent bat. Indeed, the kid can rake. Frazier is currently slashing .283/.330/.513 with 11 homers in just 24 games played. Most of his supporters are younger fans, and they passionately argue that Clint has the right to be himself and let his personality shine through, red locks and all.
The Old Guard
On the flip side, many fans despise Frazier. Off the field, he is everything a Yankee isn’t supposed to be. He is constantly testing the limits of the hair policy and more recently, the media policy. Yankee players are taught to show up, work hard, and say nothing controversial. The Yankees pride themselves on avoiding conflict and exhibiting professionalism. Frazier seemingly invites controversy with everything he does. Growing his hair out, avoiding the media after a bad game, awkward interviews after a good game. No matter the situation, it’s always something.
Clint knows the Yankees don’t like long hair, and he lets his locks fly anyway. He knows the Yankees value media relations over almost anything, yet he blew off the media after the worst game of his career. A few days later, with a chance to apologize, he doubled down and said he didn’t owe anyone anything. This is not a winning attitude and simply wont play in the Bronx. The phrase “The kid just doesn’t get it” certainly applies here.
Frazier reminds me a bit of Odell Beckham Jr. He’s not a bad person, but he craves the spotlight and tends to create distractions. These type of players aren’t committing murder or domestic abuse, but they are always pushing the buttons and testing the rules. For me, I didn’t mind it with Beckham because he was the second best wide receiver in the NFL and could do things that no other receiver was capable of. Frazier, on the other hand, is the 5th best outfielder on his own team. His defense is atrocious, and his game simply doesn’t justify all of the antics like they do with a talent like Odell Beckham.
The Yankees are aware all of this, and the premature demotion may only be the beginning of the end. The addition of Edwin Encarnacion combined with the return of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton make Frazier 100% expendable. The Yankees have a clear need for starting pitching. Logic would dictate that Frazier will probably be moved for a starting pitcher next month. The Yankees won’t dump him to dump him, but they will absolutely move on if they find the right deal.
Brian Cashman is patient, but he won’t hesitate to cut his losses. Just ask Sonny Gray.