KC Royals: Chasing Todd Frazier Shows KC Is Priced Out Of LF Market


The KC Royals are considering a trade for Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark:

Combine  these rumors with Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore’s Tuesday proclamation that Jarrod Dyson would get a chance to start next season, and his interest in Yoenis Cespedes, suggests Moore has gauged the outfield market and found the prices more than he wants to pay.

Of course, these rumors can simply come from Moore doing his due diligence searching for the best talent to fill all of his needs at the best price. Presumably, getting one reliable corner outfield bat is a big part of the puzzle. Todd Frazier turns 30-years-old on February 12 and has two more years of team control remaining for $12 million dollars. That makes Frazier very budget friendly in today’s market, but Moore has to be willing to pay the price in prospects.

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With the KC Royals already-compromised prospect pipeline after the team dealt five pitching prospects for Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto at the 2015 deadline, a Todd Frazier trade would indicate that the Kansas City Royals are going into a “win now” mode for the next two seasons.

Obtaining Frazier would add yet another player that becomes a free agent in 2018, along with: Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Jarrod Dyson, Danny Duffy, and Alcides Escobar. A crash in 2018 would seem inevitable. Such a deal would surprise me, since I had expected Moore to favor a sustained-success model. Even so, such a choice would mean that KC Royals fans can expect two more strong post-season runs.

Frazier, however, would be a bit of a different kind of player for the Kansas City Royals. Frazier has been something of a late bloomer, increasing his home runs from 19 in 2013, to 29 in 2014, and 35 in 2015. Todd Frazier also has a high career strikeout rate of 21.0%.  In short, Frazier is a slugger—which seems to fly in the face of the KC Royals established high-contact, put the ball in play offensive model.

The other interesting question is the idea of converting Todd Frazier into an outfielder. He has played a grand total of 80.1 innings in the outfield for Cincinnati between 2011-13. He shows surprisingly strong defensive metrics as an outfielder, with an outrageously high 71.0 UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating prorated over 150 innings). To put this in perspective, Alex Gordon‘s best UZR/150 is 22.6 in 2014, when he won the platinum glove as the AL’s best defensive player.

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While those metrics are clearly out of line, Frazier does seem to possess the athleticism to handle a full-time outfield role. Given that the KC Royals coaching staff helped Alex Gordon transition from a third basemen to the best defensive left-fielder in baseball, perhaps they are confident that they can do the same thing with Todd Frazier.