When the Triple-A Iowa Cubs hosted the Omaha Storm Chasers yesterday, Clint Frazier was the designated hitter. He wasn’t on a rehab assignment, and he wasn’t a 40-man guy who’d been optioned to Iowa. Instead, Frazier was there having accepted an outright assignment to Iowa, making him something of a true minor leaguer for the first time in over five years. For a 27-year-old former top prospect who has already shown an above-average bat in the big leagues, that is probably a difficult reality to face.
Frazier, who immediately joined Iowa over the weekend, certainly has the right attitude, though. More on why he chose to head to Iowa instead of free agency:
From Birch’s article, which is a great read:
“I think that my best option though was coming here and ultimately performing and putting myself and other people in a position to where maybe there’s an opportunity that opens up to where I can finally get a full-time playing job because at-bats have been hard to come by the last few years for me,” Frazier said. “So, in a way, this will be good to come down here and perform the way that I know I can. And hits bring a lot of friends. We’ll see what I can do.”
When Frazier finished his extra round of batting practice, he stayed on the field for a bit to chat with Iowa hitting coach Desi Wilson. While being in Iowa isn’t the goal, Frazier is trying to make the most of the chance to play every day.
“I signed here because I wanted to be here,” Frazier said. “And ultimately, I think that I’ll be able to play enough and finally find my groove to where somebody says, ‘Let’s give this guy a couple hundred at-bats.’ Because I can hit.”
We talked at length about the Cubs’ decision to punt Frazier from the 40-man roster ten days ago rather than move out anyone else, and, more specifically, the Cubs’ continued decision to allocate big league at bats to almost any other outfielder except Frazier. If they weren’t going to give him a real look and a chance to bounce back, then, sure, designating him for assignment made some sense. It’s just that not giving him a look in a season like never made sense to me. It still doesn’t make sense to me (and if you read Birch’s piece, it kinda sounds like it still confuses Frazier (“Hits bring friends. So, I didn’t have a lot of hits up there and therefor, I was the guy that had to go in order to create a roster spot from what I was told.”)).
Again, I have to reiterate that the beef was never primarily about being convinced that Frazier would definitely emerge as a 2023 starter if only given a chance. That was maybe a 5% proposition. But when that is stacked against the idea of playing guys who have ZERO justifiable chance at contributing for the Cubs in 2023 (and ZERO chance of becoming a trade piece this year), you’d think it would’ve been obvious who should have been getting those starts.
I suppose that’s why it’s really good news that Frazier accepted the assignment to Iowa, so at least there’s a little more time to figure out whether he can bounce back.
So the Cubs get another chance to figure out if there’s a future for them with Frazier.
For Clint Frazier, this is a chance to show he can still hit, even if only at Triple-A, because even if the Cubs never call him back up, he’s essentially playing for his next opportunity right now. He’ll become a minor league free agent after the season if his situation doesn’t change, and he’s going to want to be looked at as a high-priority option for teams that want to give him a real look in 2023.