Frazier earns spot as top trade target
Notes and observations from Major League Baseball at the All-Star break:
n Congratulations, Adam Frazier, for being the first Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman to start in an All-Star Game since Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, and for leading the major leagues in hits (115) to this point in the season.
So long, Adam Frazier, who is very likely not to finish the season in a Pirates uniform.
Frazier, whose .330 batting average is a narrow second in the National League to the .331 clip put up by Cincinnati’s Nicholas Castellaneos at the break, is a versatile talent who has also played in the outfield and is picking an opportune time to have a career year.
His contract with the Pirates won’t expire until after the 2022 season, but moving him before the July 31 trade deadline makes the most sense for the Bucs, for a number of reasons.
Frazier is being sought after by a host of teams — most notably, the AL’s Seattle Mariners, who have a void at second base and are in a position to offer Frazier the long-term contract that he covets and which will not be forthcoming from the Pirates.
Other teams that have been prominently mentioned in the Frazier sweepstakes are the New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics.
Frazier, 29, is a great natural hitter who is in the prime of his career, and his trade value has never been higher.
The Pirates, who are in a full-fledged rebuilding mode, are 34-56 and virtually guaranteed of a last-place NL Central Division finish in what will be a lost season from a wins-losses standpoint.
The Pirates traditionally haven’t signed players ages 30 and over for the long haul, and they won’t be doing so with Frazier, who could bring back a king’s ransom of younger talent.
The Pirates don’t have to get a trade for Frazier done before season’s end, but the likelihood is that they will.
And the irony is that he will be leaving when he is at his very best.
n Outstanding closer Richard Rodriquez could also be moved soon, and there have even been some rumblings that power-hitting outfielder Bryan Reynolds could be on the trade block.
While none of the Pirates other than third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes is an untouchable, trading Reynolds — an NL players All-Star choice this year who could be one of the team’s building blocks for the future — would be a real head-scratcher.
The switch-hitting Reynolds — who has hit 16 home runs and driven in 51 runs at the break — is one of the few legitimate power threats on a Pirates team that has been largely bereft of offensive firepower.
Due to an injury to Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., Reynolds joined Frazier in the NL All-Star team’s starting lineup at Denver’s Coors Field Tuesday night.
At 26, Reynolds is making a relatively modest $601,000 this season and is under club control with the Pirates through the 2025 season.
He’s a player that the Pirates should think of extending instead of moving.
n Another bitter irony for Pirates fans is that the club is firmly entrenched in last place in a season where the NL Central is wide open.
Milwaukee (53-39) is in first place by just four games over the surging second-place Cincinnati Reds (48-42).
The mainstays of the division, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, are both tied for third place with losing 44-46 records, eight games out, and appear to be a shell of their former selves.
The Cubs recently lost 11 games in a row and are facing a number of veterans heading for free agency. The Cardinals’ pitching staff is tied for ninth in team earned run average, giving up 4.24 per game, and their .230 team batting average is among the league’s lowest.
n While no team appears to want to win the NL East, a division where only the first-place Mets (47-40) have a winning record, the San Francisco Giants are baseball’s surprise team, leading the NL West by two games over the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Giants weren’t on anybody’s playoff radar at the season’s outset, but outstanding starting pitching and a number of rejuvenated veterans who have enjoyed great success at the plate have San Francisco in a sustainable three-horse race with the Dodgers and third-place San Diego, which invested heavily in blockbuster offseason acquisitions.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman’s 1.74 ERA is second in the league behind the Mets’ Jacob DeGrom, and the Giants’ 3.24 team ERA is second only to the Dodgers’ 3.21.
John Hartsock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org