It seemed all along that Todd Frazier was destined for the New York Mets or New York Yankees. Since he settled for a two-year, $17 million contract from the Mets, the takeaway has to be that the Yankees simply weren't interested -- at least beyond a one-year deal -- and will be content running with Miguel Andujar as their Opening Day third baseman.
The Mets, after bringing back Jay Bruce on a three-year contract earlier in the offseason, added another power bat in Frazier, who has hit 102 home runs the past three seasons, including 27 in 2017. The contract obviously looks like a bargain for the Mets given that Frazier has produced 3.4 WAR each of the past two seasons.
Mets third basemen hit .269/.315/.413 last season -- four different players started at least 25 games there -- and combined for minus-17 Defensive Runs Saved. Even given Frazier's age -- he’s entering his age-32 season -- he provides enough value at the plate to go with solid defense that he should easily earn the value of the contract and serve as an improvement over 2017's potpourri of Mets third basemen.
Frazier has morphed into a "three true outcomes" slugger. In 2015, he hit .255 and belted 79 extra-base hits for a .498 slugging percentage. In 2017, those numbers dropped to .213 with 46 extra-base hits, so if he's not hitting a home run he's not doing much else when he puts the ball in play.
You can see why there wasn't that much interest in him on the free-agent market. If the average continues to drop and he loses a step on defense, he'll decline dramatically from a 3-WAR player. The one thing propping up his offensive value last year was that his walk rate spiked as he drew 83 walks, giving him a career-best .344 OBP. The Mets were 10th in the National League in OBP, so Frazier could help lift that figure.
What the Mets can do is hit home runs. They led the NL with 224 last season (Bruce slugged 29 in 103 games before his trade to the Indians) and can now roll out this lineup:
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
I'm skeptical about both options at first base but Frazier or Flores can play there, with Reyes sliding in at third if needed. There's power from one to eight and the bench gives new skipper Mickey Callaway some options to play with. Now, despite all the home runs last year, the Mets were just ninth in runs. They didn't get on base enough and didn't run the bases well. The speed issue hasn't been addressed, so the Mets will once again have to slug their way to runs.
The Mets have been criticized for not spending enough on payroll. While Bruce and Frazier aren't big difference-makers, give the front office credit for taking advantage of the market and at least spending wisely. Will that be enough to push them into playoff contention? We all know that depends more on the health of the starting rotation than how many home runs Bruce and Frazier will hit.
That leaves Mike Moustakas out there still seeking a home. While he comes with one gleaming credential -- 38 home runs -- it’s worth noting that the Royals ranked just 23rd in the majors in WAR at third base last season. He just didn’t do enough in the rest of his game to create much value -- and home runs are cheap these days.
The Mets were one team with a need at third, as the Angels added Zack Cozart and the Giants traded for Evan Longoria. The market for a third baseman is thin and unless a team like the White Sox shows interest, you have to wonder if Moustakas ends up back in Kansas City.