CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Clint Frazier has been looking forward to his Progressive Field debut for years. He did not think it would come against the organization that drafted him, and longtime teammate Bradley Zimmer.
It took a haul for the Cleveland Indians to acquire Andrew Miller at the trade deadline in 2016, with the centerpiece of the deal being the now New York Yankees rookie.
Tribe Manager Terry Francona never got to see Frazier too much up close outside of a few spots in Spring Trainings passed, but says the outfielder’s inclusion in the blockbuster deal says enough in itself.
“I think we knew he was really talented,” the skipper said. “I don’t think you can trade for Andrew Miller and not think you’re going to sneak three guys over there that can’t play. It was a big, big gulp, but we got to the seventh game of the World Series. We didn’t win, but we don’t do any of that without Andrew.”
The deal even came with a disclaimer from President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti, warning about how the move would appear down the line when Miller is out of the picture and Frazier is in it.
“I think Chris was really honest about it,” Francona added. “He said, ‘you’re going to look up five, six years from now and you’re going to see a guy and it’s going to be hard to take.'”
“I actually think it’s good when both teams win in a trade. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
The two players are now linked in baseball eternity. The Cleveland-bound end of the deal has already paid its dividends, as Francona mentioned.
Now it is up to Frazier to make it worthwhile for the Yankees, though the other parts of the deal are not slouches by any means.
With Justus Sheffield, J.P. Feyereisen, and Ben Heller (the only of the foursome with MLB experience prior to Frazier) all in the minor leagues, the eyes of New York’s most passionate fans will be glued to the 22-year old considering what was surrendered in return.
“Andrew put a lot of pressure on me last year,” Frazier said before his return to Cleveland. “His performance was probably about as good as you get in the playoffs, which made me feel like I had to try to live up to him. He had shoes that he was filling and I had shoes that I had to fill myself. To realize that I’m clearly not Andrew, it really lets you know that the team was thinking very highly to trade me for a guy like him.”
In 24 appearances headed into August 3rd, Frazier is slashing .255/.283/.511 with four home runs, six doubles and three triples in 99 plate appearances.
With the pressure already enough, Frazier also joked that he was happy to avoid seeing Miller, recently sent to the disabled list with right patella tendonitis.
Selected in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Frazier was greeted a year later by the Indians’ current center fielder, Zimmer. The pair moved up almost step by step once the 2014 first rounder joined Frazier in Lake County that year, but Zimmer moved up from High-A Lynchburg to Double-A Akron for the final 49 games of 2015, with Frazier joining at the start of 2016.
Zimmer beat his old teammate to the Major Leagues by 46 days, and 33 days after Frazier’s big league debut, the two will meet on the field they both envisioned playing on together.
“Something that I was always looking forward to in the back of my head and envisioning myself and Bradley and a couple other guys out there on the field at the same time,” Frazier said. “He seems like he’s making a SportsCenter Top 10 catch every night. We’re texting every now and then. I’m looking forward to seeing him today. I haven’t seen him since the day I got traded. It’s going to be a fun time to catch up with him and see how he’s been doing.”