Let it go: Clint Frazier needs to move on from rocky Yankees tenure

If I worked for the Yankees and read Clint Frazier’s tweets on Tuesday, I’d nod knowingly.

If I worked for the Cubs and did the same? I wouldn’t necessarily shake my head in dismay. Although I’d keep the information in the ole noggin.

Good wishes to Frazier, now 27, as he embarks upon this next step in this journey, his one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Cubs wrapping up shortly before the owners’ lockout began and eight days after the Yankees cut him loose to protect some younger players for the Rule 5 draft’s major league portion, which will occur after (if?) the players and owners agree on a new deal. More than anything, you cast good tidings regarding his health, which flared first with his multiple concussions in 2018 and then with a condition, its details still murky, that kept him out of action last season from July 1 onward.

Secondarily, you reiterate to Frazier the same advice that so many have offered to him since he emerged as the fifth-overall pick (by the Indians) in the 2013 draft: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Block out that noise.

Shorten that memory.

The outfielder tweeted six times Tuesday, and none of them will require an apology or an explanation. He kept it clean. Yet in referencing two of his controversies from his pinstriped time — a report that he had asked for uniform number 7 and Joe Girardi’s request that he cut his hair to adhere to Steinbrennerian standards — Frazier revealed, once again, his tendency to hold onto stuff.

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Clint Frazier
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I’m not saying Frazier didn’t have a right to be upset over these events. He did. Both, however, occurred in 2017, a lifetime ago in professional sports. At some point, it behooves you to let them go.

During his 5 ¹/₂ years under Yankees employ, Frazier certainly showed off what the Yankees saw in him when they made him the co-centerpiece (with Justus Sheffield) as the package yielded from Cleveland for stud reliever Andrew Miller. He shone brightest during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, posting a .267/.394/.511 slash line, playing dramatically improved defense and even serving as a role model by wearing a mask on the field, an act that naturally generated a fair amount of hate from social-media troglodytes, which Frazier naturally noticed. Alas, his 2021 bombed out even before his physical ailments overtook him, a .156/.299/.297 April setting a bad tone as he wound up an absolutely dreadful .186/.317/.317.

After responding to a negative fan tweet by remarking how happy he was not to be a Yankee, Frazier conducted some quick spin control, tweeting, “Me being happy I’m on the Cubs has nothing to do with Yankees fans. It has to do with the fact that I’m happy to be able to play somewhere I’ll get a better chance at playing.” That figures to be true on a rebuilding Cubs club, and perhaps the Yankees should have extended him some more rope last season. At some point, though, you’ve got to perform, and the Yankees, off to that miserable start during which they were unwatchable, to use Brian Cashman’s word, had to try something different.

Clint Frazier makes a catch.
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(Speaking of Cashman and the Yankees’ front office, we’re one player away from rendering a final judgment on the Miller trade. Only 18-year-old middle infielder Benny Escanio, acquired from the Brewers in a 2019 trade for J.P. Feyreisen, remains. So far, Cleveland, which rode Miller to the ‘16 American League pennant, owns the clear edge, even factoring in the contributions of James Paxton, who came from Seattle in return for a trio headlined by Sheffield).

It’s not too late for Frazier to become not only a major league regular but a particularly popular one, given his physical talents and willingness to put himself out there. Nevertheless, adversity and angst are not exclusive to Yankee Stadium. Annoying stuff will happen to Frazier as a Cub, too. Can he learn from exemplary Yankees teammates like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge about how to compartmentalize those annoyances?

If he can — and, most importantly, if he can pair that up with good health — he can create the sort of great memories that ballplayers never let go.

Artmotion U.S.A

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