The Boston Red Sox lust for right-handed power bats and reportedly there is one on the market – Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds. What would it take?
The Boston Red Sox have a long tradition firmly embedded in their psyche – the desire for a right-handed power bat. They have drifted through Fenway Park through the years from the purchase of Jimmie Foxx to the various trades that have brought in everything from Jose Canseco to Jason Bay. Occasionally the Red Sox get the best of all their dreams and just think Manny Ramirez.
One big bat is now available as the Cincinnati Reds are reported to be shopping Todd Frazier. Frazier, a two-time All-Star, is a 29-year-old third baseman who will soon (2018) reach that magical point in his prime career years – free agency. The Reds have been in the process of dismantling their team to reload by seeking the bluest of blue chip prospects and players of talent whom they have under control for a few seasons.
In 2015, Frazier whacked 35 home runs and accounted for 89 RBI. The previous season it was 29 and 80, so Frazier can hit home runs and, alas, can whiff with 137 in 2015. But in baseball the whiff is being discounted like meat about to expire at a Safeway supermarket. OBP has also become somewhat of a stat that is also being diminished from back when it was a benchmark for decision-making. Frazier had a rather pedestrian .309 in 2015.
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Frazier is a capable offensive performer who slashed .255/.309/.498 in 2015 – a season in which he also won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game. Frazier’s defensive skills will certainly be a significant improvement over the current third base defender – Pablo Sandoval. A fourth best UZR/150 among National League third sackers is not shabby.
Somewhat of a disclaimer is I happen to be a huge Frank Sinatra fan and Frazier, from Sinatra’s home state of New Jersey, will often have a Sinatra song played when he steps up to the plate. So anything that gets Sinatra into Fenway is cool with me.
Frazier is an upgrade, but getting that upgrade is a three-fold problem that is probably the death knell for my Frazier pipe dream. The first is Panda. What do you do with him? First base apparently will be given to Hanley Ramirez and there are ample reserves in Travis Shaw and Brock Holt at both infield corners. And Panda is owed a bundle of dough and I doubt the Red Sox have any willingness to absorb that.
The second part of the Frazier equation is what do you give up? I imagine the Reds have no holiday spirit and will, undoubtedly, require a wee bit more than a low-end prospect or two. Maybe Shaw or Holt could be part of a package? Pitching the Red Sox have Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and a few others on the current staff that could be offered. I doubt Anderson Espinoza is going anywhere.
The third part of this scenario is Rafael Devers, who is ranked number two among Sox prospects. Devers, is highly valued by Boston and others, is projected to be the real deal down the road – maybe by the time the Panda deal is finished Devers will be set to roll into Boston? And don’t ignore Michael Chavis – another third base prospect of note. The Reds would probably be quite amicable to a package that includes Devers.
Bringing Frazier to Boston would give a dynamic right-hand bat, a good glove, some speed and a player in his prime years who is a proven commodity. Just maybe Frazier could be the Josh Donaldson of 2016? But the history of questionable signings in 2014, the talent in the system at third and a reluctance to give up pitching may make this a pure fantasy transaction, but with Dave Dombrowski you just never know.