When the Pirates took the field in 2019 the team looked different up the gut. Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer had held down the middle infield together and during the offseason both were allowed to walk. This won’t be a piece about those two leaving or that being some kind of mistake, it wasn’t, no, this is going to be all about Adam Frazier.
We had questions about Adam’s glove and his ability to thrive at one position. Simply put, Adam answered those questions and procured a Gold Glove finalist nod for his trouble.
So, the Pirates gained a steady second baseman who stepped right in where Harrison left, and in the process lost their best option for super utility man, the last position Frazier took over for Harrison.
Last week I toyed around with building the pirates lineup and I tried to do it in such a way that you’d see all the different thought processes behind it. Everyone thinks through a lineup differently, so I tried to show some of those methods. One thing that didn’t come up was moving Adam from second base. I didn’t even suggest it.
On a team that struggled defensively, I’m loathed to consider moving the only member of the infield who was even in the running for recognition to another spot on the field, but is that short sighted?
On one hand, keeping Frazier locked in at second allows he and Kevin Newman to continue to develop together and depending on who you talk to, having a true position makes Frazier a more attractive trade piece.
On the other, Moving Frazier to Left field, or at least sometimes having him play there could provide opportunity to get Cole Tucker in the lineup and the sacrificial lamb from the lineup would be Dyson or Heredia.
If Adam held his own at second base and never received any recognition, do we feel he is this locked in? I’ve struggled with Frazier. I think he is the most clear-cut trade bait on the club not named Keone Kela (and if he opts out forget that), but part of that is where he plays. Middle infield is a position of strength on the club and it makes using his talent to acquire more that can help in other areas attractive.
Adam himself has expressed a willingness to continue to play wherever he is needed, and sure most players say stuff like that, but this is a guy who is actually capable of it. If Adam plays say 20 games in LF and slides Reynolds to CF the lineup is stronger, one of the young infielders the Pirates have struggled to get at bats finds his way on the field and maybe, just maybe, keeping this rare development success story in town becomes more likely.
It’s not lost on me that suggesting the Pirates trade Frazier is a very Pirates fan thing to do. In many ways Adam is the dream, you draft a kid with quick hands and a willingness to learn and he makes his way to the club and does well wherever you stick him. That shouldn’t net you immediate trade speculation, it should be extension talk or praise for his flexibility. Talk of just what he can turn into should be all over message boards, but we (me included) have locked him in at 2B, which means in order for the flood of players behind him to get a shot he needs to make room and it led me to trade talk.
I don’t want to lose that player, he’s not just a swiss army knife in the field, he does the same in the lineup. He can hit lefty’s and righty’s and slots all up and down the lineup. He has sneaky power and with that swing, hitting for average is always going to be there.
So why do I want to move him again? Maybe I don’t, at least not out of the organization. Recent comments from Adam seem to indicate he too sees his locked in position as a restriction he and the team don’t need.
We all say frequently we want players who hustle, try, and have a certain level of toughness that we appreciate more here in Pittsburgh. Adam fits the bill on all those things right up to an including playing all of 2019 banged up.
If he is ultimately moved for prospects, I’ll understand, hell I championed it. If he is allowed to improve the overall club by staying here, I’ll gladly be wrong and celebrate a well-deserved extension.
*Insert all Nutting won’t comments here*
My suggestion for this season is to use Adam in whatever way the Pirates can to improve the lineup and find at bats for Tucker while taking them away from the two expected CF options. Regardless, don’t let almost winning an award limit the effectiveness of homegrown talent or allow it to prevent another from developing.