The sun may have set on the 2015 MLB Winter Meetings, but the rumor mill continues to churn at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Todd Frazier’s beautiful face popped back up on our Twitter timelines this morning, with the Indians and White Sox as two of the clubs mentioned to be very much interested.
On the surface, The Toddfather seems like a perfect fit for the Tribe. The team needs an outfielder (or two), and could stand an upgrade at either of the corner infield spots. Frazier could play left field until Michael Brantley is healthy again, then move back to his natural position at third, or to first and bump Carlos Santana to DH.
But where would he fit in the lineup? I spent more time than I’d care to admit exploring various options Tito would have if we did end up getting something done with the Reds. Spoiler alert, they’re all awesome.
(all stats are 2016 Steamer projections)
(lineups against RHP)
Option 1: Frazier stays at 3B
Here we have Frazier staying at his native hot corner, keeping Santana at 1B. To me, Joey Butler seems to be the best option we currently have for LF…Collin Cowgill will probably be out there against lefties, and you’d like to only run Chris Johnson out at DH against them too but there’s not really a great alternative there at the moment.
Option 2: Frazier plays 1B
To avoid having Johnson DH against righties, we can slot Frazier in at first base and bump Slamtana to DH. Butler remains in left, Gio returns at 3B. Giving Gio the nod at third greatly improves our infield defense, gives his bat a chance to develop and keeps Lindor happy playing next to his bff. I like this a lot more than Option 1.
Option 3: Frazier plays LF
This would obviously be a temporary solution until Brantley gets healthy. It wouldn’t surprise me if Smooth DHed for a while before he returns to the field, making this option more probable than Option 2 since you’re not going to take Santana’s bat out of the lineup.
(Hypothetical) Option 4: Sign Rajai Davis, Frazier plays 1B
This isn’t completely out of left field (heh) since there were rumors of the Indians interest in Davis last week. While I’m not particularly enamored with him as a player, I am particularly enamored with the idea of finding someone other than Lindor to lead off and extending the lineup one more spot. Kip isn’t your prototypical 3 hitter but I think he fits there just fine, certainly better than Santana does in the 4 hole. So having Davis lead off allows you to bump Frazier to cleanup, something he’s fantastically suited for, Santana to a much better position for him at 5 and Yan down to 6. This is my favorite option so far.
Option 5: Jose Ramirez plays CF, Frazier plays 1B
On second thought, who needs Rajai Davis? Jose Ramirez logged 14 innings in the outfield last year (albeit in left), and Chris Antonetti hinted at the fact that he could see even more in 2016. This option is awesome for the same reasons as #4, but at no added cost to the club. It does take Ramirez away from the Aviles-type role I’m guessing Tito will want to use him in this year, but it’d be close to a wash in terms of net gain/loss of lineup flexibility with Frazier’s ability to play multiple positions. I’d love to see what Jose can do in center field.
Frazier is coming off a 35-bomb season and his second All-Star appearance. He wouldn’t come cheap. But with the Reds apparently blowing things up, he could come to Cleveland for a package that doesn’t include much, if any, major-league ready talent. Clint Frazier or Bradley Zimmer would almost certainly headline the deal, with a young arm like Michael Clevinger or Justus Sheffield and probably a third upper-level prospect might be enough for Cincinnati to pull the trigger. This lineup with a healthy Michael Brantley and our pitching rotation intact? Just give us the damn pennant.
KEEP THE CHIEF