Potential New York Yankees Trade Targets in a Clint Frazier Deal

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

Potential New York Yankees Trade Targets in a Clint Frazier Deal

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    The New York Yankees hold one of the most intriguing trade chips of the 2019 MLB trade deadline in outfielder Clint Frazier.

    The 24-year-old former top prospect is hitting .283/.330/.513 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 34 RBI in 209 plate appearances at the big league level this season.

    However, he was also recently optioned back to Triple-A, and it's clear there's no place for him in the MLB lineup when everyone is healthy.

    As a result, the Yankees are "willing to deal Frazier in the right situation" this summer, according to Andy Martino of SNY.

    So what is the right situation?

    According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Yankees will not be willing to trade Frazier for a rental pitcher or a pitcher with only one year of control remaining beyond this season.

    That would seemingly eliminate top rentals Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler, as well as top 2020-21 free agents Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman, from the trade target mix.

    Ahead we've put together five potential trades that could fit those parameters.

    Two are trades for impact pitchers in which Frazier is the headliner in a package of players sent out by the Yankees, two more have New York bringing back a lesser pitcher among multiple pieces in exchange for Frazier, and another is a one-for-one-swap.

    It's a mixed bag, but it should demonstrate a few different approaches the Yankees could take.

RHP Adam Plutko, Cleveland Indians

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    Trade Proposal: Yankees acquire RHP Adam Plutko, RHP Carlos Vargas from Indians for OF Clint Frazier

    Is this a sexy trade? Not at all.

    Is it a deal that makes a lot of sense for both sides? Yes indeed.

    The Cleveland Indians entered the season with a sketchy outfield situation, and left field has been a black hole from a production standpoint with a .655 OPS that ranks 28th in baseball at the position. A reunion with Frazier, who was drafted by the Indians with the No. 5 pick in 2013, would provide an immediate upgrade.

    Meanwhile, the Yankees got an up-close look at Adam Plutko on June 8 when he allowed just three hits and two earned runs in six innings of work against them to pick up his second win of the season.

    The 27-year-old has a 4.26 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 31.2 innings spanning six starts, and he comes with team control through 2024. He's a durable depth arm capable of eating up quality innings at the back of a big league rotation. There's plenty of value in that, especially for a team that has had injuries to its starting staff all season.

    That said, the Indians would need to further sweeten the pot, and the big arm of Carlos Vargas might be enough to get a deal done. The 19-year-old has a 70-grade fastball, a 60-grade slider and a projectable 6'3", 180-pound frame. His ceiling is high.

    The Yankees love prospects like this, and they know how to develop them.

RHP Chris Bassitt, Oakland Athletics

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    Trade Proposal: Yankees acquire RHP Chris Bassitt, OF Dairon Blanco from Athletics for OF Clint Frazier

    Before you turn up your nose at this offer, take a look at the numbers Chris Bassitt has posted over the past two seasons:

    • 2018: 47.2 IP, 3.02 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 19 BB, 41 K
    • 2019: 64.1 IP, 3.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 27 BB, 63 K

    The 30-year-old missed part of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and was sidelined early in 2019 with a right lower-leg contusion. But when he's healthy, he's an above-average option, as evidenced by his 125 ERA+ during that span.

    His strikeout rate has jumped from 7.7 to 8.8 per nine innings, and he's holding opposing hitters to a .204 batting average. A late bloomer of sorts, he is under team control through 2022, and he'll be first-time arbitration-eligible this offseason.

    Starting pitching is the biggest need for the Oakland Athletics as well as the Yankees, so they might be hesitant to deal one of their better starters. That said, the opportunity to acquire a low-cost impact bat such as Frazier might be too good to pass up.

    Since Frazier has an extra year of team control relative to Bassitt and a higher ceiling, the A's would need to add a complementary piece.

    The Yankees love players with loud tools, and Dairon Blanco has 80-grade speed. The 26-year-old had a two-year layoff from competitive baseball before he signed for $200,000 out of Cuba in December 2017, and he has swiped 20 bases in 64 games at Double-A this year.

RHP Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles

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    Trade Proposal: Yankees acquire RHP Dylan Bundy from Orioles for OF Clint Frazier

    A one-for-one swap with a division rival that includes two players with long-term control?

    It doesn't happen often, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

    The Orioles would gain a cornerstone piece who could stand at the center of their rebuilding efforts. With team control through 2023, it's reasonable to think he could be part of the next Baltimore Orioles contender.

    On the other hand, Dylan Bundy will be a free agent after the 2021 season. It's probably a stretch to think the O's will be ready to contend again by then.

    The 26-year-old has endured a roller-coaster career since he was the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft. After a breakout season of sorts in 2017, he took a step backward last year with a 5.45 ERA in 171.2 innings.

    He's gotten things back on track this year, however, posting a 4.59 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 80.1 innings. He's been pitching particularly well of late, posting a 3.46 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with a .234 opponents' batting average in 52 innings over his last nine starts.

    Would the Yankees be willing to face Frazier 19 times each season for perhaps the next four-and-a-half years if they can bolster their starting rotation for the next two-and-a-half years?

    If the answer is yes, this might be the best move they can make this summer.

RHP Joe Musgrove, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Trade Proposal: Yankees acquire RHP Joe Musgrove from Pirates for OF Clint Frazier, RHP Nick Nelson, RHP Tanner Myatt

    Joe Musgrove was a top prospect during his time with the Houston Astros before he was shipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Gerrit Cole blockbuster.

    He posted a 4.06 ERA with an excellent 3.59 FIP in 115.1 innings last season, racking up 100 strikeouts while posting a 1.18 WHIP and 4.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. A strained shoulder limited him early in the year, and he was shut down in September with an abdominal injury, so he only made 19 starts.

    The 26-year-old has a 3.74 FIP this season that ranks 31st among qualifiers, and there's room for him to take another step forward if he can improve a middling 7.3 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate. With team control through 2022, he could be a long-term piece in the Yankees rotation.

    With Melky Cabrera, Corey Dickerson and Lonnie Chisenhall set to reach free agency at the end of the year, the Pirates will have an outfield spot to fill alongside Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. Adding Frazier would give them a low-cost bat with long-term control to fit into their financial restrictions.

    It's going to take more than Frazier to pry Musgrove loose, though.

    The hard-throwing Nick Nelson was ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Yankees system in Bleacher Report's latest farm rankings, and he's been terrific in High-A and Double-A this year with a 2.30 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.

    Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Tanner Myatt would be a boom-or-bust roll of the dice. The 6'7" right-hander has a 70-grade fastball and two potential plus off-speed pitches, but he has a long way to go with his command. While he has a 1.48 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 24.1 innings with a .138 opponents' batting average at Single-A, he's also walked 22 batters.

LHP Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Trade Proposal: Yankees acquire LHP Matthew Boyd from Tigers for OF Clint Frazier, RHP Clarke Schmidt, OF Antonio Cabello, RHP Domingo Acevedo

    Matthew Boyd is enjoying a breakout season for the Detroit Tigers.

    The 28-year-old has posted a 3.61 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 94.2 innings, and his 118 strikeouts rank eighth in the majors.

    He's employing a more fastball-slider-heavy approach while throwing his changeup and curveball less, and the result has been a spike in his strikeout rate from 8.4 to 11.2 per nine innings.

    While his future looks bright, the Tigers are still rebuilding, and with Casey Mize and Matt Manning headlining their farm system, they might be willing to sell high on a pitcher who has team control through the 2022 season.

    While the Detroit system is loaded with arms, it's relatively thin on impact bats. Adding Frazier to the middle of the lineup would give the Tigers a cornerstone run producer to build around.

    Right-hander Clarke Schmidt (No. 6) and outfielder Antonio Cabello (No. 10) were ranked among the top 10 prospects in the Yankees system in Bleacher Report's latest farm system update, while flame-thrower Domingo Acevedo is reinventing himself as a reliever at Double-A.

    If the Tigers were to up their asking price to Deivi Garcia or Luis Gil as the prospect headliner, it might be a deal-breaker for the Yankees. It all depends on how aggressively they decide to pursue pitching help and how highly the Tigers view Frazier as the centerpiece.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.