As the end of July creeps closer Toronto Blue Jays fans anxiously await the inevitable trades that should shift the struggling Blue Jays into a franchise full of solid prospects. What the focus for the Blue Jays should be is “cusp” players and high level prospects that are close to stepping into the major leagues in the near future, not project players.
For Toronto Blue Jays fans one of the biggest bright spots this season has the been the terrific play of leftie ace J.A. Happ. Subsequently, one of the hardest pills to swallow will be him moving away from the team soon. Even worse, it looks like it’s the yankee’s who’ll be scooping him up, however the silver lining could be the return the Jays could get for their southpaw.
In a team chocked full of high quality prospects, Clint Frazier has been heralded as the next MLB ready outfield prospect to emerge from the New York Yankee farm system. Without the major acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton in the off season it was likely Frazier would have been a regular on the big league club, however for the Yankee’s the Stanton deal was a typical signing – big name, big bat, big money – and couldn’t be passed up.
For Frazier his entire career is ahead of him; at 23 years old and some big league at bats in 2017 and 2018 under his belt he is ready to make the transition to the majors. He is currently hitting second in the line up and playing right field for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. His minors numbers make him an attractive piece to target in any deal with the team;
Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA):
- 44 games, 203 plate appearances, .305 batting average
- 24 extra base hits, 8 home runs, 17 RBIs
- 21 walks, .379 on base percentage
The Jays would be giving up a top notch player this season who fills a desirable need for many teams – elite level leftie starting pitching. Happs 2018 stats prove he is worth a rich return, too: 10-4 records, (inflated) 4.08 ERA, 110 strikeouts, 1.110 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.2 SO/9.
So, would Frazier be a good fit on the Blue Jays? Any 23 year old, 6’1″ 195lb, elite level prospect on the cusp of making starting their MLB career would be welcomed to most teams in the league including the Blue Jays. As it stands now the outfield has not been the largest concern for the Jays, but more competition for play should be welcomed.
The Jays current outfield is led by Kevin Pillar, the Jay’s everyday centre fielder who offers unparalleled defence with average batting. Next is breakout hitter Teoscar Hernandez (LF) who stepped up with his opportunity to be an every day player this season and is now cemented in left field. Hernandez brings major pop to the lineup with average/below average defending. And finally Randal Grichuk (RF), who appeared to be the weak link in the outfield but has returned to form after a horror start to the season. Grichuk is hitting .294 in June with 8 homeruns and 20 RBIs, while offering above average defence.
Acquiring Frazier could mean the Blue Jays would roll with a young platoon in the outfield, using a mix of their everyday outfield players to maximize their potential and also temper the likes of Frazier into the league.
A move for the top outfield prospect could also signal that a few more moves are on their way – namely Curtis Granderson and Kendrys Morales. With young players itching to play, moving out a player like Morales who can legitimately only play DH (not good enough at 1B) you can keep a bat like Hernandez in the lineup, while offering better team defence with Frazier in LF.
Despite the hate they get on a regular basis, GM Ross Atkins and President Mark Shapiro know how to build a team through drafting, developing, and prospect analysis. Atkins is responsible for flipping leftie Francisco Liriano last season for Nori Aoki and an “outfield prospect” who turned out to be Teoscar Hernandez. Much like the Astros, the Yankees are deep in the outfield and Frazier could be the piece targeted in a deadline deal for Happ.
Embrace the rebuild, Jays fans. It’s about to get started!