Todd Frazier is a two time All-Star who has appeared in the final round of the home run derby twice, and won one. He has 139 career home runs in his fifth MLB season. He was once the prize of the Cincinnati Reds team. He was the runner up to Bryce Harper in the rookie of the year voting for 2012.
But given how he was traded once this past offseason, and given the struggles of the White Sox, he might be traded again, it’s worth wondering, how valuable is Todd Frazier?
Everyone was shocked to see how little the Reds really got in exchange for Todd Frazier this past offseason, when he was shipped to the White Sox. But given that it was a more than confusing three team trade that seemed to simply dupe the Reds’ front office, we’ll look past it. And given that the Reds have sold short on several other players, such as Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman, it’s fair to say that the Reds just simply aren’t good at selling players.
The big names in that trade were Todd Frazier, the All-Star third baseman, Frankie Montas, the hard throwing prospect, and Jose Peraza, a middle infielder who seems like a utility player by this point. Given how Frazier has had his worst MLB season, Montas was dumped to the Athletics, not even as a centerpiece of a deal for a rental, and Peraza now finds himself once again at AAA, no one seems to have won the deal. Rather, it looks like a three way exchange of damaged goods.
Todd Frazier’s value is the most questionable aspect now though. After two straight seasons of posting a WAR above 4.4, he’s posted only a 1.1 WAR this year. He’s had a clear offensive dip, as he’s hitting .210 on the year, after hitting .273 and .255 in years past. That seems like something that could be attributed to Great American Ballpark, the short fenced domain he used to call home. But his power hasn’t dipped. He’s likely to eclipse his career high for home runs, as he only needs four more to reach 35. He’s also hit in 72 runs. Even in a year in which he’s hit .210, he has a wRC+ of 99. Meaning that’s just below the average. Most players hitting .210 would have a wRC+ in the 80s.
Those numbers make it seem as though Frazier is simply a slugger now, who can connect on 40 bombs a year, and do nothing else- and that’s what he’s done for the White Sox this year. The whole thing reaks of Dan Uggla, the perineal 30 homer threat, who couldn’t connect to save his life after being traded to Atlanta and signing a new contract; or Adam Dunn, who was never the same player out of Cincinnati.
But the numbers also reveal something more interesting. Todd Frazier has had some of the worst luck in the majors. He has a BABIP of .202, while his career average on balls in play is .275. Thus, Frazier is due for an uptick in on-base production. Not to mention that his walk rate is actually up. His career BB rate is 8.0%, while his rate this year sits at 10.4%.
This means that at the ripe age of 30, Frazier is anything but washed up. While his defense has taken a serious hit, and his contact seems to have gone down, Frazier still displays more upside than almost anyone who might find themselves on the trade block in the coming seasons.
The White Sox have no reason to keep Frazier, as his contract runs through 2018, and the team has no legitimate chance of being competitive during that time. They’ll likely look to move him, and recoup some value. If a team were to buy now, they’d have a great chance at buying low and finding hidden value in one of the best run producers in the game.