An exec of a team that's talked to the Reds says he's convinced Todd Frazier "is legitimately out there" to be traded for - for a big return— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 16, 2015
OK, so Todd Frazier is on the block. As Joe Sheehan wrote Tuesday, the Cincinnati Reds should have traded him back in July, when his trade value had peaked after a monster first half, when he hit .284/.337/.585. He slumped to .220/.274/.390 in the second half, however, and while he still had an excellent season with 35 home runs and 4.0 WAR, his overall line of .255/.309/.498 is a big drop from where he stood at the All-Star break.
The Reds are rebuilding -- or should fully commit to a rebuild -- and while Frazier could be viewed as a potential cornerstone piece, it makes sense to trade him. He has two years left until free agency, but more importantly he's already entering his age-30 season, a late-bloomer who didn't have his breakout season until he was 28. So it's possible that by the time the Reds are able to compete again with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, Frazier will be entering the decline phase of his career and could be expensive.
It's never easy to trade such a popular player, but it's the right move. Here are five teams that need a third baseman:
With Lonnie Chisenhall now a right fielder, Cleveland's third baseman is Giovanny Urshela, who has a solid glove but hit .225/.279/.330 as a rookie. I keep hearing how the Indians have depth in their rotation but I don't exactly agree with that. They have a nice top three with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer has some upside as the No. 4, although he still walks too many and gives up too many homers. Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin are the other options. Trading Carrasco or Salazar opens up a pretty big hole and suddenly if somebody gets injured, you don't have the depth. I certainly wouldn't trade Carrasco or Salazar for two years of Frazier.
Joe suggested the Reds could be bold and ask for Bauer. That makes more sense, as the Reds gamble on Bauer putting it together and the Indians could then add a low-cost veteran for rotation depth. The Indians also have some interesting lower-level pitching prospects such as Rob Kaminsky and Justus Sheffield.
The White Sox finished last in the majors in wOBA at both third base and second base, so should be looking to upgrade both positions. They have Mike Olt, a one-time highly rated third-base prospect, but he's a career .168 hitter in 400 career major league plate appearances. Matt Davidson, acquired a couple years ago for Addison Reed, hit 23 home runs at Triple-A, but with a .203 batting average and 191 strikeouts. So he's not the answer, either. This would more likely have to be a prospect trade, maybe somebody like hard-throwing right-hander Frankie Montas.
The Angels have Kaleb Cowart and Kyle Kubitza as third-base prospects, but both come with question marks. Cowart was a first-round pick in 2010, but he stalled out in the upper minors and was even sent back to Class A ball to start 2015. He hit .242 there in 51 games but was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake City, where he hit .325/.395/.491, putting himself back on the prospect radar. Anyway, neither he nor Kubitza has much power and the Angels could also potentially re-sign David Freese. The farm is thin after trading away their top two prospects to acquire Andrelton Simmons, so there might not be a match here.
So here's an idea: Move David Wright to first base, acquire Frazier, then trade Lucas Duda for bullpen help or a center fielder. The Mets were willing to trade Zack Wheeler for a year and two months of Carlos Gomez. Would they trade Wheeler for two seasons of Frazier?
The Red Sox would have to essentially punt on Pablo Sandoval, whom they owe $59.8 million, to clear room for Frazier. But if they're willing to eat a large chunk of that, maybe a National League team like the Padres or Brewers take a chance on him. The Red Sox are obviously going for it in 2016; do they want to count on Sandoval bouncing back from a -0.9 WAR season? Even after the Craig Kimbrel trade, the farm system still has plenty of talent with players like left-hander Brian Johnson or third baseman Michael Chavis who could interest the Reds.
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