When Aaron Hicks and then Dustin Fowler went down with injuries, the Yankees decided to give Clint Frazier, their prized return in the Andrew Miller trade, a shot in the majors. To say he hasn’t disappointed would be an understatement. In 16 games, Frazier has hit .295 with 3 homers and 11 RBI. While people have always talked about his bat speed, I did not anticipate the energy he would bring to the lineup with his actual speed. He always runs hard out of the box, and is able to turn singles into doubles. His go-ahead two-run double in the sixth inning yesterday put the Yankees ahead for good, winning their first series in what felt like forever. However, as good as Frazier has been, Brian Cashman still had this to say.
There is absolutely no way this can happen. Aaron Hicks was one of the team’s best hitters and a potential All-Star before he got injured, so he should be immediately inserted back into the lineup once he’s healthy. But this should not come at the expense of Frazier. Jacoby Ellsbury is probably the worst contract the Yankees have handed out ever. Even A-Rod helped us win a World Series. Since signing with the Yanks in 2014, Ellsbury has never hit higher than .271 in a season, and his .249, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 12 SB stat line this year isn’t exactly proving him worthy of the $21 million he’s being paid. Even Joe Girardi, who no one is quicker than me to criticize, realizes playing Ellsbury over Frazier isn’t practical.
No matter what you’re paying Ellsbury, that doesn’t mean you have to play him if he isn’t performing. Clint Frazier playing over him gives this team its best chance to win baseball games, simple as that. In economic terms (shoutout Mr. Walker), Ellsbury is what you would call a “sunk cost.” He’s already been given a monster contract to be a huge bust, there’s no taking that back. But that doesn’t mean you should let that sunk cost affect your future decisions. You move on from it. That’s what the Red Sox just did with Pablo Sandoval, designating him for assignment in the third year of a 5-year, $95 million deal, of which he is still owed over $48 million. This is likely what the Yankees would have to do to get rid of Ellsbury, as any trade involving him would be nearly impossible to complete unless the Yankees ate most or all of his salary.
Bottom line, not only does Ellsbury not fit in the Yankees’ current outfield plans, he doesn’t fit in their future plans, either. Frazier is 22. Aaron Judge is 25, Hicks is 27. Not to mention prospects Fowler and Jorge Mateo looking to make it to the Bronx as soon as possible. To keep playing Ellsbury not only hurts the team’s playoff chances this year, but takes valuable at-bats away from Frazier. If nothing else, 2017 is these Baby Bombers’ first taste of a playoff run in New York, and every game and at-bat is crucial in building this team’s future.
So please, Brian Cashman, think about it. You made a mistake with Ellsbury, but that’s fine, you were also the one who got us Frazier in the first place. But now it’s time to do what’s best for this team and let the kid play.