So, that happened. Todd Frazier has exercised his option to void his AAA contract with the Pirates and is now a free agent.
Listen, I’m not going to go about rewriting the reporting done already by Alex Stumpf or Jason Mackey. They report, I offer opinions, that’s the ecosystem. Take a minute and read what they have to say if you like, or just trust my summary.
Todd had an opt out clause for the 25th. What that means is if he wasn’t on the 40-man roster by yesterday, he had the option to pull out and head to free agency.
The way the news trickles out it initially looked like Frazier stood on the mound with middle fingers blazing toward the dugout as he walked off to his car, but as usual when you wait a minute you tend to get the rest or the other side of the story.
Turns out the Pirates told him he wasn’t going to make the team, so, maybe not a bad guy deciding to not play on a bad team. Maybe not a guy who was disingenuous with all of us in his interviews or comments to those covering the team.
Reality is that this is the exact situation these clauses are typically baked in for veterans.
The Pirates have some other guys who could possibly fall into something like this. Problem is, Frazier was the only one reported to us. Now that could be because Brian Goodwin, Wilmer Difo and Tony Wolters don’t have them. That would surprise me a bit especially a player like Difo who could truly be serviceable just about anywhere as a Swiss Army Knife type player.
That said, until told otherwise I have no choice but to assume they don’t have outs. That means should the Pirates tell them they aren’t making the 26-man, they could all just head off to whatever the hell they’re doing with AAA players while they wait to play. Supposedly that would be the training site.
Point is, this isn’t all that odd of a situation. Happens all the time, in fact it just happened with Tony Watson in Philly today as well.
Now that we have that out of the way we turn out eyes to what the heck are the Pirates doing?
Frazier was set to back up Hayes and Moran at the corner spots. This would seemingly open the door for Evans to fill the same role. Evans has performed well this Spring and perhaps he has more versatility. He can play the outfield a little and can patrol second base as well. He also isn’t scheduled to be a free agent until 2026.
This makes total sense if the Pirates really think they’ve found somebody here, and in extremely limited time and opportunity, he’s certainly looked like he has figured something out with the bat. That’s hard to argue.
Of course, that’s IF Evans is why they did this. And I put it that way simply because going to AAA was never going to happen for Todd. The Pirates simply can’t have believed that was on the table.
The Pirates themselves could be shopping, as I said earlier, there were players adding to a growing list looking for employment. Maybe someone peaked their interest.
Maybe they just don’t think they need him. I find this odd for one main reason, if the goal is to bring in talent Frazier might have actually brought some home. I mean this is a club that just last year actually found a way to get something for Jarrod Dyson.
Perhaps feeling that Evans could turn into something better than what they could get for a backup infield, off the bench power threat 35 year old rental. I can buy that.
This isn’t a big deal really, despite wasting a few minutes of my podcast recording. I think the club could have benefitted from the veteran presence and if my star third baseman who I’m actively trying to woo into a lucrative extension had expressed how appreciative he was to have Mr. Frazier around I might have kept the big lug around.
Does this change anything really? Eh, maybe a little. His power might have been minimized in PNC park a bit, but he’d have contributed. Maybe he teaches one or two kids the difference between AAA and MLB.
Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. If I really think about it, I’m more mad that I was so blatant that he was a lock. I didn’t for one second think otherwise and that isn’t what I typically do. That’s how convinced I was though, I didn’t even consider until this happened that it was a possibility.
Make ’em look smart Phil.