Would a Todd Frazier reunion make sense for the Reds?

Todd Frazier opted out of his Minor League deal with the Pirates this weekend and was subsequently released, making him a free agent. Given the state of the Reds’ current bench options, could Frazier make sense as a potential target?

The first thing to consider is what the current in-house bench options are. Given that they’re planning to carry 13 hitters, that leaves the starting eight plus five bench players. We already know two of the Reds’ bench players: the backup catcher and Kyle Farmer. That leaves three spots for players like Aristides Aquino, Tyler Naquin, Mark Payton, Mike Freeman, Alex Blandino, Max Schrock, and Kyle Holder. We can safely assume at least one of the outfielders gets a spot, and at least one infielder will get a spot. The final bench spot could be either an outfielder or an infielder, though it seems more likely to be an outfielder.

Given that he’s a corner infielder, Frazier would be competing against Freeman, Blandino, Schrock, and Holder for one of those bench spots. Offensively, it’s clear that Frazier is the best option, even after posting an 89 wRC+ in 2020. Though not the hitter he once was, he’s just a year removed from posting a 106 wRC+ in 2019, with 21 homers. 

By comparison, Schrock posted a lower wRC+ in each of his past two AAA seasons in 2018-2019. Holder has yet to play above AA, and is known as a glove-first option, so it seems reasonable to expect Frazier to outperform him with the bat as well. Freeman has a career 73 wRC+ in 347 Major League plate appearances. Blandino is lacking in power, though his high-OBP tendencies give him a bit of upside.

So if the argument is that one of those four would be a better fit for the roster because of positional flexibility or defense, does that make sense? I would argue that positional flexibility is not a huge need from that last bench player, given that Kyle Farmer can already back up every infield position. Additionally, Moustakas could move from 3B to 2B if Frazier were to get an occasional start to give Jonathan India an off day. While it’s likely that Holder would be the best defensive SS on the team, carrying someone like that just for his defense seems like a waste.

Additionally, without the DH in the NL this year, the team will need pinch hitters more frequently. As it stands, their only true power threats off the bench would be Naquin and/or Aquino, depending on who makes the roster. Frazier could pack a powerful punch as a bench bat, something that could prove very useful for the Reds in 2021.

From an ownership and fan perspective, a Frazier reunion would be an easy sell. Frazier was incredibly popular in his time with the Reds and still garners a huge positive reaction when playing in Great American Ballpark as a visitor. He would also come at a low cost, having signed just a Minor League deal with Pittsburgh. He’s not a starting-caliber player at this point in his career, but Frazier could be a solid fit as a bench bat for the Reds.

[Featured image: https://twitter.com/Reds/status/620777120910954496/photo/1]


Kyle Berger

Kyle Berger is a lifelong Reds fan who has lived in the Cincinnati area for his entire life. Kyle has always been interested in the analytics side of baseball, and recently graduated from Miami University with a degree in Business Analytics. You can follow him on Twitter @KB_48, where most of his Tweets are about the Reds or baseball in general.

4 Responses

  1. MichaelA says:

    Good article, but for me, this is a hard pass. Taking a flier on aging veterans is oh so Cincinnati Reds. Yes, Frazier likely isn’t “done” but his upside is likely more in our emotions than in what is best for the team. I get it, I was there for the Home Run Derby with the stadium literally shaking, my hear pounding out of my chest and watching absolute magic. It is something I will never forget. But, if I am looking at the roster and trying to figure out who can help the most I come back to Blandino every time. He possesses excellent position versatility, has a track record of hitting in the minors (see Matt’s case from the other day), and possesses solid on base skills. For me, Blandino is the guy.

  2. Case says:

    The regression is too steep and he’s too old. Hard hard pass from me. Great guy, love the ToddFather!! I feel like he’d be even further down our depth chart than he was with the Pirates. If you can’t make it with the Pirates this year, it might be time to hang it up.

  3. Cranjis McBaseball says:

    I like the sentimentality with this. However, if you want to improve the bench with some RH power and that can play all 4 INF spots I would seriously look at free agent Jedd Gyorko. He is 3 years younger than Frazier. He had a 119 wRC+ last year with an .838 OPS. Frazier hasn’t had an OPS north of .800 since his magical 2015 season.
    The tea leaves are forecasting a tough year health-wise for Joey Votto in 2021 and he is already off to a cautionary start. So the Reds need to have a viable backup for 1B in place. Henneman at AAA ain’t going to be it.

    • Kyle Berger says:

      I wouldn’t mind Gyorko either. Part of the Frazier logic was it was an easy sell to ownership and the fans. Not sure if the Castellinis would be as quick to approve signing Gyorko, but it all probably comes down to cost. Simply put, they’re best off acquiring an INF for that last spot rather than relying on one of the three internal options, given that the abilities of each of those internal options overlaps so much with Kyle Farmer.