Column: Why did the Yankees let Todd Frazier go?

 New York Mets newly-signed third baseman Todd Frazier gestures as he stands in the dugout at CitiField after a baseball news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York Mets newly-signed third baseman Todd Frazier gestures as he stands in the dugout at CitiField after a baseball news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It’s official. As of Wednesday afternoon, Todd Frazier stays in New York.

But he won’t be in pinstripes. Frazier, a 31-year-old Toms River, New Jersey native, finalized a $17 million, two-year contract with the New York Yankees’ crosstown rival New York Mets.

The Yankees acquired Frazier in a trade with the Chicago White Sox in July 2017, along with pitchers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, to provide some much-needed help for the second half of the season.

Frazier gave the Yankees key depth at the corner infield positions, as well as a veteran bat that could give the Baby Bombers someone to look up to. Frazier wasn’t necessarily a high-profile addition at the time, but he turned out to be one of the most important pieces on the Yankees come October. Losing him to the Mets on a deal that could’ve easily been matched could be something the Yankees will regret in 2018.

A third baseman by trade, Frazier broke into the majors in 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds and has since hit 175 career home runs, hit 498 RBI and has a .245 batting average. Those aren’t fantastic numbers by any stretch, but Frazier has a career WAR (wins above replacement) of 3.4, which is very respectable. His clutch hitting in the playoffs was a big reason why the Yanks made it seven games in the ALCS against the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros.

Add on his stellar defensive contribution – Frazier ranked fifth among all third basemen with plus-10 defensive runs saved in 2017 – and Frazier is, at the very least, an above average player on both sides of the ball. And that doesn’t take into count his invaluable presence as a leader in the clubhouse.

Frazier brings unmatched energy and good vibes everywhere he goes, and has a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in the league. Playing for the team he grew up cheering on only made the guy happier. A quality person and a hometown guy that can provide help in the lineup and in the field? That sounds almost irreplaceable to me.

Best of all, Frazier more or less started the Yankees’ iconic gesture for the last few months of the year – the (ironic) thumbs down. Playing a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field in mid-September due to Hurricane Irma, Frazier hit a home run to give the Yankees a commanding lead over the Rays.

Captured on the YES Network broadcast was a portly gentleman in suspenders giving Frazier thumbs down as he rounded the bases. The man, who turned out to be a Mets fan taking in the game, and his thumb soon became part of Yankees’ lore as the Bronx Bombers used the thumbs down as a staple to any positive result on the diamond. The Yanks carried those downward-facing thumbs all the way to the playoffs and used them as a rallying cry when in need of runs, and helped to sell merchandise and seats.

None of that is possible without Todd Frazier, who could very well be using that thumbs down against the Yankees in the Subway Series in 2018.

I understand why Cashman may not have wanted to commit to Frazier for a second year, but with all the Yankees’ money and the youth that is coming through the system, including high-end prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, you have to think that the Bombers could have utilized Frazier in some way or another.

Whether to mentor the young bats for another year, or fill in as a DH or pinch hitter. Cashman easily could have found a spot for the hometown kid on the 40-man roster. Yes, the lineup has loads of talent, especially with Giancarlo Stanton joining the fold, but management’s decision to let Frazier walk could haunt the Yankees this upcoming season.

Toddfather, you will be missed. Please just try not to hit us with a home run and the thumbs down next time we see you.


Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.