Veteran free agents on the other side of 30 have had a particularly tough time in finding new homes in recent offseasons. Next winter, New York Mets infielder Todd Frazier will see how brutally unkind free agency can be.
In his age 33 season, New York Mets infielder Todd Frazier likely has a lot on his mind. Not only is he focused on having a productive season in 2019, he’s also hoping to get healthy and actually return to action. He’ll need to do both if he wants a major league contract next season.
Free agency isn’t kind to players at his age, with his limitations, and with his recent injury history. As someone whose OPS has dropped in each of the last three seasons while hitting .225 or lower, finding a job next year won’t be easy.
Several notable players settled for minor league deals for the 2019 campaign. While they do have higher salaries around $3 million for a major league role, they’re far less than what you would expect from All-Stars who can still play baseball.
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For Frazier, there are questions about whether he can even do that. An ironman for most of his career, Frazier played in 115 games last season. It was the fewest since his first full season in 2012.
Even if he somehow does manage to put up better numbers this year, the market for power-first corner infielders is marginal. Why pay a veteran a few million when you can give the job to a rookie or journeyman for lesser or equal value? The benefit of playing a kid over the veteran is that the former could blossom into a star. The veteran only adds leadership, which thankfully, Frazier can bring to the table.
The Mets won’t be able to help Frazier much other than to give him ample playing time this year. They have an abundance of first base options and choices at third base are quite plentiful, too. Frazier is already a part-time player when healthy. As loyal as Brodie Van Wagenen may appear, he cannot possibly bring Frazier back after the 2019 campaign.
I wouldn’t think Frazier is ready for retirement, but a dying market for can’t-stay-healthy sluggers may force him into it earlier than expected. He’ll find a job somewhere in baseball next year, however, he may need to settle for riding the Triple-A buses.
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The only way Frazier can guarantee himself a job in MLB next season is to return to the field, produce at levels he hasn’t for years, and be willing to accept a similar deal that Carlos Gonzalez accept to join the Cleveland Indians. Accepting who he is at this point of his career will go a long way toward staying in the big leagues at least a little longer.