The Yankees have had an injury-riddled season. Key players at every position have been out for almost the entire year, and the club has never actually fielded a full-strength lineup. By not adding at the trade deadline, general manager Brian Cashman has put all his chips on the returns of injured stars Luis Severino, Dellin Betances and Giancarlo Stanton to improve the team.
If the Yankees are looking for immediate game-changers though, they have the ability to add a player who's seventh on the team in home runs, sixth in OPS, fourth in average and third in SLG (despite not playing a Major League game in almost a month and a half) with just a phone call to Scranton.
So, why aren't the Yankees looking to recall Clint Frazier, clearly one of the team's top hitters, before a crucial four-game set against the Boston Red Sox?
Yankees manager Aaron Boone spoke to WFAN's Evan Roberts and John Jastremski on Thursday, and while he did not indicate that Frazier will be Bronx-bound anytime soon, he defended Frazier and clarified that his demotion does not have anything to do with a perceived falling-out within the Yankees organization.
"I know some people have thought he's fallen out of favor and we're sending him down there and trying to send a message - none of that's true," Boone said.
Frazier had a bumpy stint with the Yankees earlier this year. While his offense was critical to the team's early-season success, his defense was among the worst in the league. Frazier ranked 105th out of the 119 outfielders who have played at least 300 innings this season with a dismal -7 defensive runs saved.
Frazier also had a rocky relationship with the media, which included not speaking after games and calling coverage of him unfair. After being demoted, Frazier cleared his Instagram account and unfollowed several of his teammates. He also used almost all of his allotted 72 hours to travel from Chicago to Scranton. For comparison, Mike Tauchman was demoted one day after Frazier and still made it to Scranton earlier.
Since then, the Yankees have recalled Tauchman, Mike Ford, Breyvic Valera and Tyler Wade instead of Frazier. Boone, however, said that positional need and players' roles had more to do with choosing those players over Frazier.
"The last time we called Tauchman up, it was a decision between Tauchman and Frazier," Boone said. "Frazier had been struggling a little bit down there and we were in need more of a backup outfielder, more of a fourth outfielder situation, which Tauchman fills that need a little bit better. The Wade and Valera things were things that were covering for DJ LeMahieu while we were trying to stay away from him these last couple of days. … It's just kind of the fit on the roster."
It makes sense that Frazier should only come up if he's playing every day, not in part-time duty. Still, there seems to be a spot for Frazier right now. Starting left fielder Brett Gardner and starting first baseman/designated hitter Luke Voit are on the injured list, which opens up at-bats at positions Frazier can play. Instead, Boone has preferred to split Tauchman and Cameron Maybin in part-time roles. They have proven to be a productive tandem on both sides of the ball, but don't offer as high a ceiling as Frazier.
USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported that the Yankees offered Frazier in potential trades this deadline. Now that he's here for at least the remainder of the 2019 season though, the Yankees might as well use his bat to aid the lineup.
Boone expressed optimism that Frazier will return to the Yankees before the end of the season.
"Clint has worked his butt off," Boone said. "He's obviously played an important role for our team. When that right spot or situation opens up where he can become a regular player for us, then he very much gets back into that conversation."