It’s been nearly a decade since Cleveland took Clint Frazier with the fifth overall pick in the MLB Draft – and it’s been a tumultuous journey, to say the least. The Tribe sent him to the Bronx as a headlining piece in the Andrew Miller trade in 2016 – which, of course, helped them reach the Fall Classic in a matchup with the Cubs.
Meanwhile, in New York, Frazier never really found his footing. He made his big league debut in 2017 and over the course of five years, managed just a .239/.327/.434 line, good for a 105 wRC+. That’s serviceable, but obviously not what you’re hoping for from a former first-rounder. Concussions and lingering symptoms have been a recurring issue, but now that he’s at 100 percent, he’s ready for a fresh start on the North Side.
Chicago picked him up early in the offseason and he’s in camp battling for one of the final spots on the Opening Day roster. The trade of Harold Ramirez could boost his chances, but given Frazier is the only guy vying for a roster spot with a minor league option remaining, the path of least resistance could be having him open the year at Iowa.
That being said, I’d be all here for giving Frazier regular reps at the big league level. If he’s finally healthy, a change of scenery paired with a clean slate following years of criticism in the Bronx, he could be poised for a big-time performance in 2022.
We saw a glimpse of what he could be capable of during the 60-game 2020 campaign, when he put it all together and hung a .905 OPS on opposing pitchers. That was followed by a disastrous showing in 2021, though, with the outfielder appearing in just 66 games and batting .186/.317/.317.
So far this spring, though, Frazier has looked good. He was one of the few bright spots in the Cubs’ 17-1 loss on Friday, reaching base twice and raising his Cactus League OPS to 1.071. Hopefully, he won’t end up being one of those guys who show out in spring action only to fall flat on their faces come the regular season, but we won’t know that for some time.
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This is a guy that’s easy to like – and on a team desperate for guys to perform – this signing could wind up being one of the best acquisitions the front office pulled off this offseason.