Red Sox Rumors: Todd Frazier a potential trade target

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 04: Todd Frazier
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 04: Todd Frazier /

The Boston Red Sox are so desperate for an upgrade at third base that they have to at least kick the tires on a trade for Todd Frazier.

The third base situation for the Boston Red Sox is a mess. The need to upgrade at the hot corner has become so dire that even a struggling veteran has some appeal.

Which is why it’s notable that the Chicago White Sox have been scouting the Red Sox organization lately. Could they be seeking an asset that Boston can flip them in exchange for third baseman Todd Frazier?

Too be clear, I’m no fan of Frazier. Normally I would want no part in trading for a 31-year old struggling to hit above the Mendoza Line. These are not normal times.

Frazier enters the day hitting .212/.322/.429. He has some pop in his bat with 13 home runs. That’s more than anyone in Boston’s lineup, although it’s tied for only 29th in the league and well off the pace he’s shown in recent years. His 97 OPS+ signifies that Frazier is a slightly below-average hitter.

Hey, slightly-below average would be a tremendous improvement for the Red Sox.

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Boston has cycled through seven different players at the hot corner this season. Seven! We aren’t even halfway through the season yet. The ragtag crew has collectively hit .199 with a .559 OPS, both of which are the lowest in the majors at third base. Only Kansas City (.504 OPS) and Baltimore (.554 OPS) shortstops have been worse at the plate among non-pitchers.

Frazier has been awful this season, yet even his disappointing production has been better than the abysmal results the Red Sox are getting at third base. At least he would add a home run threat to a lineup starved for power. His .751 OPS ranks outside the top 50 in the league, but only five regulars in Boston’s lineup can top that. It’s also nearly a staggering 200 points higher than what the Red Sox have been getting at third base.

It was only a year ago that Frazier blasted 40 home runs and he was an All-Star in the two previous seasons. He has a .910 OPS in June, so he may actually be pulling out of a season-long funk. Now is the time to buy! See, here I go trying to talk myself into Todd Frazier.

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While he won’t be earning any Gold Gloves anytime soon, Frazier is at least adequate in the field. Boston has shifted between the slick glove of Deven Marrero or the slightly more useful bat of Josh Rutledge. In the rare event that he’s healthy, Pablo Sandoval gives them an option who has been terrible at the plate and in the field.

Frazier can at least be close to average on both sides of the game. For all his flaws, he’s still been worth 1.1 WAR this season. No other Red Sox third baseman has produced a positive WAR total this season. For a Boston team locked in a virtual tie at the top of the division, a player that provides an improvement of about one win over roughly half a season could make all the difference.

The veteran third baseman is in the final year of his contract, so Boston would owe only a prorated portion of the $12 million he’ll earn this year. With top prospect Rafael Devers storming his way through the minor leagues, a half-season rental is all Boston needs.

It shouldn’t take much to pry Frazier away from Chicago, so Dave Dombrowski won’t need to empty the cupboard for a mid-season upgrade. Looking around the majors, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of third baseman teams are eager to part with.

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I cringe at the thought of adding Frazier to this lineup. An unforgiving Fenway crowd will turn on him as soon as he goes into his first 0-for-20 slide. It’ll happen. As much as I’d like to avoid that outcome, there doesn’t seem to be a realistic alternative. Frazier isn’t a great choice, but he’s the best of a batch of bad options and clearly better than what the Red Sox have in house.