His name has been a popular choice when people talk about the Pirates continuing the rebuild of the system but as we sit here in the middle of the third trade cycle since is it fair to assume nobody is interested?
Now, to be fair, I first started pointing to Adam as a movable piece because of where he plays more so than how he plays. I felt it was dealing from a position of strength, or at least options since strength would denote that excellence is somehow being blocked. Now I’m starting to wonder if the market at the very least doesn’t match what the Pirates think they need in exchange.
So, today, let’s talk about Adam and see if we can’t make some sense of the situation.
What is Adam Frazier?
Well, this is one of those guys who most everyone has a quick answer on, but let’s try to keep this as fact based as possible.
He’s become a terrific fielder, and worked hard to do it. He certainly isn’t getting Gold Glove nods via his bat like so many have throughout the years but he isn’t flashy either. He makes the plays he should, a few he probably shouldn’t and almost always makes the smart play.
Hey, for the Pirates lately, none of that is a given.
The bat plays, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. For his career he’s a 6.9 WAR player. He’ll give you a .280 average and his OPS will reside somewhere in the high .700s.
No matter how you slice it, that’s a solid bat. A complimentary bat, not a feature bat.
I think that’s fair.
He’s also not an outfielder. Oh, he can play the position in a pinch and he has the athleticism to get to balls, but on an everyday basis, his arm isn’t cut for it. Over time it will get exposed and man, once you find a position where you become Gold Glove level that’s really where you hold most value.
What’s His Value, and What Does it Come From?
Well, that depends on how you like to look at value. If you believe Baseball is one big math problem and all it takes is finding a package that adds up close to break even on surplus value. It’s a good way to look at it, but important to note every team uses different math.
Why? Well it’s baseball of course it’s convoluted. The basic idea is you take the player’s WAR balanced by their salary and if they have more than one year left toss in xWAR and expected salary to calculate a surplus.
Now, I avoid math whenever possible so let’s just say smart people use voodoo behind the scenes to make the math come together.
Back to the different math, well some clubs will put more value on certain metrics which changes the weight and ultimately outcome of the entire equation.
OK, that concludes the nerdy numbers part of this examination.
Next, value doesn’t live in a vacuum. if Adam is the only second baseman available near his production level there’s a great chance he nets full value. If there are 4 or 5 other players close in value and available chances are they all knock each other back a bit.
It’s not much different than a free agent if you really think about it. Some seasons there are seemingly 15 top tier pitching options, some seasons there are 3. The value of those 3 skyrocket, while the year with 15 will typically drive down the cost of 13 or 14 of them.
Now pretend the team is an agent and they’re trying to get the best price for their client, the market will play just as big a role as the player himself.
Should We Still Expect a Move?
First, the Pirates are motivated sellers and no matter the amount of mental gymnastics you try to perform it’s really hard to make a case that Frazier should stay and compete as the prospects start making their way to PNC.
Most of the top competition for Frazier is on the free agent side of life this year, and only a few would be what you’d consider major upgrades from what Frazier could provide far cheaper.
He’ll get moved, but all the factors involved lead me to expect just a little below max value in return.