Todd Frazier is coming back to New York — but without the Yankees pinstripes this time.
The pride of Toms River, New Jersey, who still has a house there, signed with the Mets on Monday evening, according to multiple sources. The deal is for two years and $17 million, pending a physical, the sources confirmed.
Frazier, a welcome midseason acquisition for the Yankees last year, will play third base, filling a hole that has long been vacated by an ailing David Wright and temporarily occupied by Asdrubal Cabrera, a natural shortstop. Cabrera likely will shift to second base, with Amed Rosario at shortstop.
In signing Jose Reyes, Anthony Swarzak, Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets had made modest acquisitions that nonetheless stood out in a very slow free-agent market. They’re haunted by the specter of perception that they’re a big-market team that spends like a much, much smaller one, so this signing should help. “When the right deal came along, they would spend the money,” a source said.
Frazier, who hit .213 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs last year, doesn’t provide the statistical splash that a Mike Moustakas would, but it long appeared that the Mets weren’t seriously in the running for that big-ticket player.
Frazier, 31, is one of the fortunate ones in a group of free agents who remain unsigned on the cusp of spring training. It’s certainly something that benefits the Mets — they still could sign a middle infielder or add bullpen help — but has raised the hackles of agents and players. With pitchers and catchers reporting next week, expensive players such as Moustakas, Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish still don’t have a team to call home.
The union between the Mets and Frazier hardly is a surprising one. A kid who once took over New Jersey by leading his team to a Little League World Series title, Frazier has always stuck close to his roots. He said time and time again last year that he enjoyed playing in New York.
He also provides a stabilizing clubhouse presence on a team that for a while seemed to lack internal leadership. In the final months of last season, the Mets lost Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Bruce, all clubhouse leaders; add to that Wright’s longtime absence, and the need for a veteran voice was clear.
Frazier, a two-time All-Star, is surehanded at third base, and his fielding saved about 10 extra runs over an average fielder last year, according to Baseball Reference. He had 13 errors in 324 chances at third. His 27 homers would have tied for second on the Mets last year and his RBIs would have led the team. Frazier hit 40 home runs in 2016 and 35 the year before.
The Frazier File
Birthplace: Toms River, N.J.
Age: 31 (turns 32 on Feb. 12)
MLB experience: 7 seasons
Teams: Reds (2011-15); White Sox (2016-17); Yankees (2017)
Batting avg.: .245
On-base pct.: .321
Slug. pct.: .459
Two-time All-Star (2014, ’15)