Royals Re-Sign Jason Frasor, Trade Aaron Crow to Marlins


Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have announced that they’ve re-signed right-handed reliever Jason Frasor to a one-year deal, with a mutual option for 2016. The 37-year old threw 17.2 innings for Kansas City this year, with a 1.53 ERA and more than 8 strikeouts per 9 innings. Ken Rosenthal reports the team has also sent Aaron Crow to Miami for left-handed pitcher Brian Flynn and right-handed pitcher Reid Redman.

The club acquired Frasor from the Rangers in July, in exchange for reliever Spencer Patton, and Frasor became a reliable member of the middle of the Royals’ bullpen. After the Cerberus of Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera, the Royals struggled to find consistency, and Frasor filled that role admirably. He also made the postseason roster, throwing another 5.1 innings with just 1 run allowed.

In his career, Frasor has a 3.59 ERA in 618.2 innings, along with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. Despite pitching most of his career in the AL East, he’s done a great job of limiting the long ball, with only 0.8 home runs allowed per 9 innings.

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Although Frasor throws a fastball and slider, he still has had success against left-handed batters, thanks to his splitfinger pitch. In his career, Frasor’s held lefties to a .217 average with a .287 slugging percentage off of his splitter, and overall in his career, left-handed hitters have a .311 wOBA against him. That’s not elite by any means, but his platoon splits aren’t drastic enough to only have him face righties. Frasor gives the Royals a legitimate middle reliever who can handle most batters, regardless of which side of the batter’s box they’re in.

Frasor’s return obviously made Aaron Crow even more expendable than he was when I wrote about him previously this offseason. Frasor will only be making $1.25 million in 2015, although he can earn performance bonuses of up to $500,000. His mutual option is worth $2 million, and the buyout for the option is only $550,000. In other words, Frasor will make less money than Crow, while almost certainly pitching more effectively. Crow was going to be the 6th-best arm in the bullpen, at best, so sending him elsewhere was absolutely the right move.

Crow had an awful 2014, putting up a 4.12 ERA with even worse peripherals. He struck out 5.2 per 9 and walked 3.7, while also giving up 10 home runs in 59 innings. His season merited a demotion to the minors, along with exclusion from the postseason roster, leading to some foolish comments by the University of Missouri grad. It was time for both parties to go in separate directions.

As for Flynn, the 6’7″ lefty is only 24 years old and has a solid minor league track record, though poor results in a small major league sample size. In 520.1 career minor league innings, the Wichita State alumnus has a 3.49 ERA, with 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He throws a fastball and sinker in the low 90s, along with a slider and a curve, although he’ll mix in a changeup a bit more against righties. It doesn’t look like Flynn has a ton of upside, but could provide some rotation depth at least.

Redman was drafted in 2012 as a third baseman, but after his rookie season, he was converted to a pitcher, where he’s had quite a bit of success. He’s been old for his level, but Redman struck out more than a batter per inning, while limiting his walks to 2.1 per 9 in 90 innings of work. Redman throws a fastball that averages about 93 MPH, along with a changeup and slider. He hasn’t pitched above the Double-A level, although he has closing experience already, and could provide even more depth to the bullpen.

Overall, I’m a fan of both moves. Frasor pitched very well for the Royals this season, and if the team does choose to trade off one of it’s closers, Frasor provides quality depth to help bridge the gap once again. Considering Crow was a non-tender candidate, getting anything in return for him is a big plus, and both pieces coming back to the Royals could be somewhat valuable in some role, either in 2015 or beyond.

Depth is such an important thing to have, and even though neither of these moves are terribly flashy, the Royals wanted to maintain their great bullpen. Today, they helped bolster that unit by bringing back an affordable and productive part of it from this season, and unloading a replaceable pitcher for a pair of arms with some potential.