I know what many people are probably thinking when they read the name in the title of this article. Who? Well, not every trade target is going to be a big name, nor should it be necessarily. The idea of trading for players is to get someone that the Tigers feel could contribute positively, and do so for a while.
In this installment, let me introduce you to Todd Frazier.
Frazier is a right handed hitting 25 year old infielder/outfielder that plays for the Cincinnati Reds. He will turn 26 in February. Frazier at different points throughout his career has been a top 100 rated prospect by Baseball America in 2009 and 2010. He got his first look at big league action with the Reds down the stretch and produced a batting average of .232, but managed to have an OPS of .727. That may not be great, but it largely comes from the 6 homers that Frazier had in just over 100 at-bats. Over his minor league career, Frazier carried an OPS of .837, making his bat play almost anywhere regardless of his lack of defensive home.
Young and cheap. While 26 years old to start 2012 isn’t a baby, if the Tigers were to acquire Frazier, they probably wouldn’t have to worry about 2B, 3B, or LF for a little bit, depending on where they wanted him to play. Also he isn’t going to cost you anything for at least 3 or 4 years, and has had a productive enough bat in the minors to have some intrigue.
Versatility. I don’t want to slap a platoon label yet on Frazier but he does have some ability to play multiple positions. The problem is that he has been moved around so much that he hasn’t found a defensive home. Jim Leyland and the Tigers seem to like versatile players however, and Frazier fits that bill.
Defense. While a positive of Frazier is that he can move around the field, some of the reason for that is that he isn’t an above average defender anywhere, but isn’t real poor either. He started as a SS, but now it looks like Cincinnati likes him in LF, or a corner infield position. I tend to believe his defensive profile could work at 2nd base, and ultimately that is where he should play.
Value. Frazier does have some value as a good solid bat with some power, and given that he is young and cheap as well, the Reds just might want to keep him.
Despite Frazier’s versatility, his potential above average offensive output, and his value in being inexpensive and young, I do think there is an opportunity to pick him up in a inexpensive trade.
Simply put, there is somewhat of a logjam on the Reds infield. The Reds are more than likely going to at least pick up the option on 2B Brandon Phillips, and possibly extend him. SS Zach Cozart looks like he has a future. Paul Janish is a tremendous defender in multiple spots. Juan Francisco is at 3B. There is still Edgar Renteria and Joey Votto as well. LF may be an option for Frazier, but if the Reds trade Votto to make financial room, and positional room for the cheaper Yonder Alonso, they are likely to go for a corner outfielder in return.
Basically, the Reds don’t particularly need Frazier, and might want to turn him into some pitching or something else.
I really believe that even though his name may not carry the weight of a Neil Walker or Howie Kendrick, Frazier is the type of guy that David Dombrowski should be scouring the market for. Why? Simply put, he is not just a one or two year solution, and even if he doesn’t work out as a full time starter, the Tigers would have themselves a nice utility option that can drive a baseball off the bench. He also isn’t going to cost as much as some of the bigger names out there either.
Frazier isn’t an error machine defensively, and does have some athleticism as well, so I can see him having the capability to work at 2B if his team should choose. He has a strong arm, but would need to work on making the turn. Given his physical abilities, I just think he needs the experience to learn it.
For those familiar with Frazier, what do you all think?