A.J. Preller made massive trades at the deadline last season, and he clearly felt it was time to add another bat to the Padres lineup. Marcano was the only player the Padres lost who got any big league playing time this season.
Frazier is a prototypical contact player, as he strikes out in just 10.6% of his plate appearances. He’s having a career-best year, slashing .327/.392/.453, and his OPS is over .800. A major boost to the deal is the fact that he’s under contract until the 2022 season, meaning that he’s not a rental. The Pirates are also sending $1.4 million in cash, making Frazier’s Padres’ salary the league minimum, which is a great value for a star.
Frazier will never hit 20 home runs in a season, but he’s a great contact bat, and he can play all over the field. The left-handed hitter plays at second base for the Pirates, in which case the Padres would move Jake Cronenworth to first, giving them four All-Stars in a single infield. On the other hand, Frazier can also play in the outfield. He’ll certainly put a dent in the playing time of Jurickson Profar, Eric Hosmer, and Ha-Seong Kim, but he’s got the bat to make that worth it.
The only worry to have with Frazier is the fact that his BABIP, which is .362, is the fifth-highest in baseball. BABIP, which stands for batting average on balls in play, gives an idea of how lucky a player has been. The MLB league average for BABIP is .297, and so it’d be expected that Frazier’s batting average will dip in a Padres uniform.
Now it’s certainly possible that Frazier’s numbers will stay up, as he’s hitting the ball in the air more, something that is conducive to a high BABIP. He hits the ball to all fields, so he’s not a shift victim, but he’s not a big base stealer, going five for nine this season in Pittsburgh.
He’s always been able to get on base, having an OBP of .347 for his career, and he’s got an offensive WAR of 2.9 this season, which is the exact same as Padres superstar Manny Machado. He has 11 defensive runs saved at second base and seven in the outfield in his career, so he’s certainly serviceable with the glove at whatever position the Padres play him.
The fact that the Padres were able to give up three minor leaguers, only one of which is currently ranked in the team’s top 30 prospects, makes the trade a steal for the Friars.
The Padres still have their top prospects, which makes them available for trades later in the week. The Nationals have reportedly announced that Max Scherzer is on the market, and the Padres will need to use their top farm system to make sure Scherzer ends up in San Diego, or even more importantly, not in Los Angeles.