These trade target pieces aren’t supposed to be races against the clock, but with the Red Sox hot on the heels of the White Sox’s Todd Frazier I’m typing fast as all hell to get this done before any official paperwork gets to the league. These are only the freshest words, no preservatives. Enjoy them now or toss them away forever. Your choice.
Frazier has long seemed like the most obvious Sox trade deadline acquisition, even moreso now that Pablo Sandoval has been sent back to the spirit realm. With the White Sox in full-on sell mode having shopped both Chris Sale (hey, to us!) and Jose Quintana since the end of last year, a relatively small piece like Frazier on a one-year contract has seemed like a no-brainer for a Boston team that’s been burned at the hot corner.
It seems so inevitable, in fact, that some have suggested that the Red Sox might be “bidding against themselves” for someone who is “an imperfect player, but seemingly a good fit.” That’s WEEI’s Rob Bradford, who uses the fact no trade has yet been made to extrapolate that the Red Sox might be getting snookered. I disagree with this assessment, in favor of this one:
Assuming Dave Dombrowski sees all the aforementioned qualities, the guess is that the Red Sox are monitoring how low the White Sox will go. Most of the time when it comes to trade deadlines, it makes a lot of sense for the dealing team to wait was long as possible to see how much they can get for a rental player everybody know they will be moving on from. There is virtually no chance Chicago has any intention of holding on to Frazier for the final few months.
That analysis comes from... WEEI’s Rob Bradford, in the very same column! I think it is spot-on. Extrapolating from this bit of logic, one would probably guess that Dombrowski was determined not to overpay for the boom-or-bust Frazier, who has, as @bradfo notes, hit a ton since June 1, with a .869 OPS and eight homers over that span entering yesterday’s piping-hot baseball action.
Either way, there’s a lot for the Red Sox to like here. There is, critically, a lot not to like as well, or at least enough to keep Dombrowski from having already overpaid. Frazier is boom-or-bust, to say the least. Batting average isn’t the stat one wants to ultimately judge T-Frizzle on, but when you’ve hit under .200 in three of the four months of an MLB season, it naturally might give some people pause. Frazier hit .183 in April, .185 in May and has hit a lowly .167 this very month, which is bad.
HOWEVAH… the man gets on base when he’s not knocking big ol’ dongers, of which he has 16 on the season. His OBP in July is .348 despite that .167 average, which is nutso. He’s not a big BABIP guy thanks to some leaden feet, but imagine where that OBP might be if he was sitting at over .214 on the year (and .200 in July), especially in Fenway Park, where his swing plays extremely well:
Todd Frazier's batted ball profile overlaid on Fenway Park is... appealing. pic.twitter.com/6j6LXWb0iv— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) July 14, 2017
On defense, he’s not great, but he’s not bad, like Sandoval, who was bad. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
All of this is to say that a Frazier trade seems bound to happen in the likely event that Dave Dombrowski does not, as A-Rod suggested, steal away Miguel Cabrera from Detroit. Another way to read the fact that the Sox haven’t yet pulled the trigger on Frazier is that Dombo is trying to pull off this potential miracle. Given his history, I wouldn’t put it past him whatsoever, and it would be, even at this point in Miggy’s career, difficult to overpay. In a year where Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger are all Mike Trout, none of them lead the league in hard-hit balls. Cabrera does.
So yeah, when you can get a Hall of Fame hitter to add to your flailing lineup you should probably do it imho. If you can’t, you get the Todd Fraziers of the world. Or just the one. The Sox will almost certainly do it, and not because I convinced them to do so. The cost will almost certainly be a fringe prospect and a bucket of cash, about which the Sox can’t complain after dumping $50 million to get rid of Sandoval. It seems reasonable. This trade seems automatic. Now let’s see if that’s worth a damn thing.