The big headline in the Cubs outfield this spring is the arrival of Seiya Suzuki.
However, one of his new teammates never reached any significant level of stardom that he was supposed to with his previous organization.
Clint Frazier could likely look at Suzuki and hope that he does not fail to meet expectations as he did in New York.
Yet coming to Chicago could help re-energize Frazier while Suzuki will be the one under the spotlight instead of him.
Clint Frazier Has Renewed Hope With the Cubs
Putting The Bronx Behind Him
Once regarded as a future star with the Yankees, which naturally puts a player under a ton of pressure in New York, Frazier has joined the Cubs with little fanfare. He signed a one-year contract in Chicago after his tenure in New York ended with his release. It was certainly not the way Yankees GM Brian Cashman had envisioned Frazier’s Yankees career to conclude.
Cashman and the Yankees had acquired Frazier as the centerpiece of a trade in 2016 in which they sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. At the time, Frazier was a top prospect who was selected with the fifth overall selection in the 2013 draft. Cashman was apparently enamored with Frazier, who he once said had “legendary bat speed.”
Cashman’s “bat speed” comment later became the target of mockery as Frazier fell far short of his initial billing and was cut loose by New York in November. His five-year tenure in the Bronx was marked by injuries, lack of consistent opportunities, tiffs with the media, and other controversies.
Frazier never truly saw the opportunity to earn regular playing time with the Yankees, who always seemed to make him the odd man out in their outfield until he was finally ticketed to start in left field last year. But he had a slash line of .186/.317/317 before his season was shut down because of head issues.
Now, MLB life begins anew for Frazier in Chicago, where he is still not guaranteed playing time. But if he can start the season off well, Frazier may prove that his bat regularly belongs in the Cubs lineup, which could make him an intriguing MLB props play. Frazier is 27 years old, an age where many players often break out, and he still has time to put his New York tenure behind him and get his career back on a positive path.
With Spring Comes New Perspectives
It is an old but true baseball adage that a change of scenery can often be very good for certain players. This certainly seems to be the case for Frazier, who could simply not stay healthy or in the lineup at all during his years with the Yankees. Now he gets a chance to clear his mind and seize an opportunity to prove he can still tap into his potential.
Some in the New York media believe that Frazier was never given a fair shake with the Yankees, and that view was also shared by some fans.
Frazier’s former manager, Aaron Boone, also recently expressed that he still has confidence in him to bounce back from his forgettable run in New York.
“Fortunately for him, his story is not complete from a baseball standpoint,” Boone said via MLB.com. “He’s a guy with a lot of ability. It’s just a matter of he’s dealt with some injuries and different things that kept him off the field at times. He still has a really good opportunity to write a really good career story.”
How Clint Frazier Fits With the Cubs
Frazier should get his chances to begin a career revival as he moves between left field and designated hitter for the Cubs at the outset. The team is hopeful that Ian Happ (elbow) will be ready for Opening Day.
If Happ is not ready for the start of the season, Frazier could see additional time in left field to start the year. That could be obviously beneficial to Frazier, but he should still be in the lineup often against left-handers as a left fielder even when Happ will be available.
Thankfully for a player like Frazier, the National League now has the designated hitter. He can also prove himself while focusing heavily on his plate approach and routine as a batter. He has dealt with some defensive issues in the past, but working at DH can certainly get him going on offense, which is most important.
The Cubs gave Frazier a one-year deal to take a chance on him, and the return could be well worth it. It’s now on Frazier himself to show what he can do now if he can stay healthy and play frequently. We know what the potential always was; now we have to finally see the results.
Mining past minor league stats and advanced statistics won’t tell us anything more we need to know about Clint Frazier heading into the 2022 season.
There is still a lot of talent there, as Boone said, and now we wait and see if he can make the most of a fresh start.
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