Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AnalysisMLBNational LeagueNL CentralNL WestPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres

Padres Add Versatility by Acquiring Adam Frazier

This Saturday, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates had traded all-star 2B/OF Adam Frazier and $1.4 million to the San Diego Padres. In exchange for Frazier, the Pirates added rookie utility man Tucupita Marcano, minor league outfielder Jack Suwinski, and minor league pitcher Michell Miliano. The Padres intend to use Frazier as a utility player, getting starts at second base and all three outfield spots.

Adam Frazier, in the midst of his most productive season at the plate, has posted an impressive 132 wRC+ and leads MLB in hits. Frazier is a textbook contact hitter, with an impressive .327 batting average and a .453 slugging percentage. Home runs are not a common occurrence when Frazier is up to bat. He produces hard hit balls at a measly 26.3% rate (league average: 35.4%), and owns a barrel rate just above 1% (league average: 6.5%). Still, Frazier checks off all of the boxes wanted for a modern lead-off hitter, and should be a prime candidate to fill that spot in San Diego.

While Adam Frazier has built a reputation as an elite defender at second base, he has seen a sharp decline in that department this season. Coming off a shortened 2020 season where Frazier put up 6 outs above average (ranked in the 98th percentile), he has recorded a disappointing -1 OAA this season. Frazier’s defensive performance this season is a huge outlier compared to his track record, so there is still hope that he can improve on this for the Padres.

Frazier’s offensive output this year also looks like a massive outlier in comparison to previous years. Frazier’s Whiff%, K%, and BB% have seen significant improvements from his already respectable numbers in previous years. His most noticeable improvement this season came in the form of his batting average and xBA. This increase in BA is likely the result of Frazier’s improved launch angle of 15 degrees, up 2.7 degrees from last season. This change in launch angle came with a career-high (among qualified seasons) in line drive rate, allowing him to turn more batted balls into hits.

While it is unclear if Frazier will be able to replicate his success in future seasons, he is still shaping up to be a very good addition to the Padres down the stretch. With experience at every position except first base and catcher, Frazier gives San Diego the ability to shuffle their players around more.

Baseball Savant

On the flip side, the Pirates received a modest return of prospects, headlined by Tucupita Marcano. Marcano moved up through the minor leagues quickly, making his debut during the 2021 season at the age of 21. Marcano took just 50 plate appearances in his first MLB stint before being sent back down due to lackluster performance. He saw time at 2B, 3B, and in left & right field. Marcano, like Frazier, is a contact-first player who has seen significant improvements in power numbers this season. Despite taking just under 200 plate appearances in AAA, Marcano has tripled his career-high in home runs with 6 and has a career high in ISO with .172. Marcano has also shown elite plate discipline in AAA, with a 13.6% BB% and 12.6% K%. This development in power paired with his strong discipline makes Marcano an intriguing utility option for the Pirates in the near future.

Jack Suwunski is another intriguing asset that the Pirates are receiving, as he is in the midst of a major breakout season in AA. Suwunski, who turns 23 on Thursday, nearly doubled his ISO from 2019 at .282, and set a new career-high in home runs needing half as many plate appearances as his previous best. Suwunski clearly seems to be ready for AAA playing time, and could receive a callup to MLB this year.

Michell Miliano is the final player the Pirates are getting back for Frazier. Miliano is a 21-year-old relief pitching prospect who has most recently played in High-A. He has shown strong strikeout rates at every level (striking out 44.4% of hitters in Low-A in 2021) and has the potential to be a solid bullpen arm in the future.

Conclusion

This is a very good move for San Diego. The Padres are adding a high-end contact hitter and utility-man without giving up a top prospect. The Pirates made the right move by selling high on Frazier while his value is at an all-time best. Pittsburgh adds even more depth to an already deep prospect pool that general manager Ben Cherington has played a huge role in. It’s somewhat hard to believe the Pirates couldn’t have gotten a better return elsewhere, but this past year has instilled confidence in Pittsburgh’s scouting department with strong minor league performances this year from Roansy Contreras and Canaan Smith-Njigba — both acquired in the Jameson Taillon trade.

Owen Daley

Rookie writer for Max's Sporting Studio. Pirates fan, but nowadays I enjoy watching other teams