This offseason has seen a few of the non-contenders from 2014 make some big offseason moves. While the Astros appear to have missed out on Josh Donaldson becoming their new third baseman, there is another man out there. The Reds are probably not looking to trade Todd Frazier. But the Astros have the resources to pry Frazier away from the Cincinatti Reds.
According the baseball-reference, Frazier compares pretty well with Josh Donaldson. Other similar batters through age-28 included ex-Astro Ty Wigginton as well as Yoenis Cespedes, who won the 2013 Home Run Derby.
Frazier had a 5.3 WAR campaign in 2014 which may be a significant hindrance to the Reds’ willingness to trade him. His career batting average is .258 but has recorded two years north of the .270 mark. In the past three seasons Frazier has had at least 22 doubles and 19 home runs. He is also well regarded for his defense at third base while has the versatility as well as big league experience at first base and the outfield. He also has limited playing time at shortstop.
When the Toronto Blue Jays traded for Josh Donaldson in mid-November, many people were shocked by the trade. Just a few weeks prior the Athletics were adamant that Donaldson would not be moved. But something changed. That trade consisted of Brett Lawrie (INF) and three prospects. Kendall Graveman was drafted in 2013 and has recorded 4 2/3 innings, all relief appearances, at the MLB level. Sean Nolin had a rough MLB debut in 2013 (1 1/3 innings pitched, 6 ER) while Franklin Barreto is likely the kid Billy Beane wanted. After going for it all in 2014, including the trading of Addison Russell, Beane needed to add another quality SS prospect.
I think that a similar trade would be enough to acquire Frazier’s three years of club control. Although, the Reds certainly have different needs than the Athletics. Todd is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2015 and is projected to earn, according to MLBTR’s Matt Swartz, close to $4,600,000. A trade that I have in mind is centered around MLB pitcher Brett Oberholtzer, two top-20 prospects, and one pitcher on the 40-man roster who has yet to make his MLB debut.
A quick look at the 2014 Reds roster indicates that 2015 is a “go big or go home” scenario. They have already addressed part of the problem that I noticed. That is, that most of their starting pitchers will be eligible for free agency after this season. Mat Latos was recently traded to the Miami Marlins. Johnny Cueto has been involved in trade rumors, while to a lesser extent, so had Mike Leake. These three guys, along with Homer Bailey, created a pretty admirable starting rotation. But that could go away very soon.
Brett Oberholtzer – Acquired in the Michael Bourn during the 2011 season, Brett had an interesting season. He pitched well in the beginning prior to a bad start or two sending him down to AAA. He served as a spot starter for both the Redhawks and Astros prior to eventually being a reliable arm during the second half of the season. But Oberholtzer has never projected as a front-of-the-rotation starter. Regardless, he has strong groundball tendencies and is under club control through 2019.
Colin Moran – His official scouting profile regarded him as a safe selection for as high as the number one spot in the 2013 draft. The Astros opted to go with Mark Appel instead. Moran enjoyed a solid season for the Marlins organization in 2014 prior to the Astros selling high on Jarred Cosart. Moran is regarded for his bat more than his defense, as evidenced by a hit and power ratings of 65 and 50, respectively. Overall his profile is graded at 55 and his estimated time-of-arrival is 2016.
Preston Tucker – Personally one of my favorite players in the Astros organization. Tucker excelled at college prior to being drafted by the Astros in the 2012 draft. Officially he’s regarded for “a good feel for hitting and he doesn’t strike out much.” He hit 24 home runs between AA/AAA in 2014. In just two seasons in the minor leagues, Tucker has a .294 batting average with 74 doubles and 57 home runs. The problem is that he is limited to the corner outfield positions and first base due to his mobility issues. Under the 80-grade scale for prospect evaluations, his run tool is 30, ouch.
Asher Wojciechowski – When healthy, Asher can be fantastic on the mound. Wojciechowski has generally limited home runs, hits, and baserunners in general. But he’s no longer young (he turns 26 December 21) and had a rough campaign in 2014. He made only 15 appearances (14 of which that were starts) and saw his H/9 and HR/9 rates rise as well as an ERA of 4.74.
This scenario includes a relatively established MLB starting pitcher, fulfilling the Reds need for young and controllable pitching. Colin Moran has the potential to be a reliable third baseman in a couple of seasons. Tucker is a nice fit in any hitter-friendly stadium and would give the Reds another power-hitting lefty, which are always in demand. Wojciechowski could be interchanged with Luis Cruz. Or, if the Reds asked for more, a guy like Kyle Smith would be a great addition from a deal centered in pitching. Oscar Hernandez is a power-hitting outfielder who ranks in the top-20 who may be another solid addition to a trade.
Overall Frazier would be a spectacular addition to the Astros lineup moving forward. Who knows, maybe Rio Ruiz is the third baseman of the future. Or maybe Frazier becomes as iconic in Houston as Jose Altuve.