In an offseason where the New York Mets drew criticism for bringing back multiple former members of the team that lost 92 games last season, the team brought in some new blood and talent on Monday. The Mets agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with free agent third baseman Todd Frazier, who spent the second half of last season with the New York Yankees and now gets to stay in the area.
Frazier, who split time between the Yankees and Chicago White Sox last season, finished the year with some of the worst numbers at the plate in his career. Across 576 plate appearances, Frazier posted a .213/.344/.428 slash line, .335 wOBA, 108 wRC+ and 27 home runs.
While Frazier's batting average cratered from the .274 mark he posted in 2013, the 31-year-old demonstrated outstanding patience at the plate last season. His walk percentage in 2017 (14.4 percent) more than doubled from 2015 (6.5 percent), a remarkable achievement and progression by Frazier to help reduce the negative impacts felt by his declining contact rates.
A closer look at Frazier's increased walk rate shows numerous factors that influence a belief it should continue into 2018. For much of his career, Frazier chased a significant amount of pitches outside the zone and it showed with a 32.5 percent outside-zone swing rate. Yet last season, he greatly reduce his chase rate to 25 percent on pitches outside the zone. The drop in chase rate, paired with a career-best 9.3 percent swinging strike rate, helped drop his swing percentage from 52.9 percent in 2015 to 40.2 percent last season.
The power is something the Mets and fantasy owners can back on. Frazier's home run/fly ball percentage remains steady throughout his career, his hard-hit contact rate rose from 31.3 percent in 2016 to 32.3 percent in '17 and he continues to maintain a 45-plus percent fly ball percentage in each of the past three seasons. While playing half his games in Citi Field will be less power-friendly than Yankee Stadium, it still finished last season as one of the 16 best parks for home runs, per FantasyPros.
Even as he enters his age-32 season, Frazier should still provide strong defense at the hot corner. Last season, Frazier finished with the fourth-most Defensive Runs Saved (10), third-highest Def score (8.6), second-highest UZR/150 (9.7) amongst qualified third basemen.
A two-year deal, a result of the glacier-like pace of this offseason, reduced Frazier's financial return and the Mets landed a bargain as a result. For fantasy owners in on-base percentage leagues, Frazier should be a top-18 third basemen this season.