The Oakland A’s “have at least some interest in Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier,” reported John Perrotto on Wednesday.
The A’s need a new second baseman after trading away incumbent Jurickson Profar last week. They do have internal options available on their 40-man roster, but it’s already been reported that they’re looking to add a left-handed hitting middle infielder and that they’re more likely to find one via trade than free agency. Technically they did trade for a lefty middle infielder on Thursday, in the form of Rule 5 draft pick Vimael Machin, but he’s barely played above Double-A and probably doesn’t fill this need on his own.
That makes Frazier an obvious target for Oakland. The 28-year-old fits the bill as a left-handed hitter who can make lots of contact, get on base a bit, and hold his own defensively at second base. He’s also been a reliably consistent producer, and is coming off two straight 2-fWAR seasons in Pittsburgh. In 2018 he posted a strong 116 wRC+, and while that number dropped this past summer, he would still have represented an upgrade over what the A’s got from the position themselves.
Frazier, 2019: .278/.336/.417, 97 wRC+, 10 HR, 6.6% BB, 12.3% Ks
Statcast suggests that the above is more like his true talent level than the 2018 breakout. He also has notable splits against southpaws, so he might do best in a platoon role, but fortunately the A’s have plenty of right-handed options to pair with him if needed (like Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, or Chad Pinder).
Defensively, the metrics are split on his value, and on top of that, 2019 was his first full season at second base so the career sample is small. DRS says he’s been solidly positive at second base, especially the last two years. UZR was unimpressed with his early work but liked him last year in the full-time role, and SDI was similarly slightly positive last summer. However, Baseball Prospectus’ FRAA gave him a sizable negative value for 2019.
Contractually, Frazier is just entering his first year of arbitration and is estimated to command an affordable $3.2 million. He has three seasons of team control remaining, from 2020-22.
As for what it might cost to land him, Perrotto states that the Pirates “would like to get switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim.” (Over at Baseball Trade Values, Frazier’s value dwarfs that of Heim, but with the caveat that Heim’s value might rise after his breakout 2019 is taken into account by upcoming offseason prospect list updates.) However, Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle followed up later on Wednesday to report that there are two other teams in the mix who “might fit [the Pirates] better” than the A’s as a trade partner.
Analysis: There are multiple 2B targets out there that I’d be happy to see the A’s acquire, and Frazier is one of them. I’d need to see the return package before making up my mind, but if this is the guy they end up getting then they’ll have gotten the job done. And if it doesn’t work out, there are others to choose from.