The Yankees have been riddled with injuries in June. The nightmare of a month began as a dream with a 6-game winning streak at home, before eroding into something resembling a Civil War era field hospital with every square inch lined with casualties in various degrees of triage. Enter the Yankees’ secret weapon: The Farm.
The most recent farmhand to grace our presence is OF Clint Frazier –
- The main haul in a high-profile deadline deal which sent reliever Andrew Miller to Cleveland last year
- The man with “legendary bat speed” and personality to match
- The one they call… RED THUNDER
He’s up with the club now, after almost a year of collective anticipation by the fanbase, the organization, and Red Thunder himself. But will he stick around?
Currently the Yankees have the standard 4 outfielders on the 25-man roster, and Frazier has experience at all 3 positions. The problem for Frazier is that OF Aaron Hicks (right oblique) is on the 10-day disabled list as of June 25 and figures to return sometime in late July. It isn’t clear what will happen with Frazier at that point. They may try to squeeze him in the roster somehow, or they may send him back down to Scranton.
Some things must break right for Frazier to stick in NY. The main requirement is for Frazier to hit well. And I mean RAKE. He must force the issue. He must part the Red Sea, the same way Gary Sanchez pushed Brian McCann aside last year. If he’s hitting .350 or so with a few dingers and a low strikeout rate when Hicks returns he just might have a case.
One scenario would be if Aaron Hicks’ injury keeps him out much longer than expected. Anyone who has watched baseball for more than a month knows that injuries can sometimes linger (looking at you, almost every Yankee first baseman ever) so this is highly plausible. But what if he comes back fine in a couple weeks? Is there a possible scenario that causes the Yankees to keep 5 outfielders on the active roster?
Maybe! But given that he only plays in the outfield, and the same can be said for the other outfielders, there isn’t a lot of flexibility. Hicks, upon his return, will most likely return to his role as the everyday CF with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in some strange amorphous platoon.
Another scenario involves the DH slot. DH and Elder Statesman Matt Holliday (viral infection …?) is a mystery as far as when he might return. Fans who remember what happened to Jason Giambi so many years ago know that Holliday could either be back in a couple days or never. If Holliday is out for an extended period, Frazier could always fill the DH role in his stead. 3B Miguel Andujar is a possibility for DH but Brian Cashman would rather he continue to develop his defensive skills in Scranton.
There is a roadmap to Clint Frazier sticking around. Hey, guys get hurt. Aaron Judge’s knees need rest. Ellsbury and Gardner have a collective age of 66. Things happen. Lately prospects that don pinstripes tend to break records, maybe Frazier is the next one to do it. Maybe Gardner gets traded (not likely). Maybe Ellsbury gets traded (and maybe I grow a 2nd head). Maybe an asteroid strikes the outfield. If he ends up back in Scranton in a couple weeks, however, he will most likely be back up with the club in September when the rosters expand. You can probably pencil him in the Yankees’ 2018 opening day active roster as well.
One thing working against him is the Yankees may not want 3 of their young bucks exceeding rookie limits (130 PA’s, or 50 IP, or 45 non-September days on active roster) in the same season, as that could lead to all 3 becoming free agents at the same time. The other 2 are Aaron Judge and Jordan Montgomery, by the way. That would be a hell of a lot of money to hand out in one off-season just to retain guys.
All things considered I give Mr. Thunder a 50/50 shot at sticking around from here to eternity. Personally, I’d like him to stay with the big-league club for good. Who wouldn’t? This is the stuff that makes baseball fun! Stay tuned.