Todd Frazier’s signing with the Mets got a thumbs up from his family, from David Wright, from the head of Little League Baseball and from “Thumbs Down Guy.”
First things first: “TDG,” aka Gary Dunaier, was a guest of the Mets at Frazier’s introductory news conference Wednesday at Citi Field. Frazier signed a two-year, $17-million contract so he could stay in New York and become the Mets’ third baseman.
Frazier, the Toms River, New Jersey, product, finished 2017 with the Yankees and had a ball. He helped create a social media thing when he turned Dunaier’s viral anti-Yankees thumbs down signal into a rallying cry as the Yankees came within a victory of the World Series.
So as the two said hello, Dunaier pumped Frazier’s hand and said: “I think we’re going to have to change this” — the thumbs down gesture — “to this” — the thumb’s up gesture (one thumb, not two).
“I’m very proud to say I’m a New York Met,” he said. “To have the opportunity to go from the Yankees to the Mets, I pinch myself every day.”
Frazier spent most of the offseason dialing his agent, wondering when he was going to get a job in this maddeningly (for players and agents) slow signing season.
“It was very frustrating, to be honest,” Frazier said. “It’s something that you don’t really want to go through.”
Frazier, 31, hit a combined .213 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs for the White Sox and Yankees in 2017 and made $12 million. So you can imagine he probably was dreaming of that salary as a starting point on a three- or four-year deal. Didn’t happen. With just days to go before spring training, Frazier took the Mets’ offer, which allows him to stay near home.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Frazier’s signing allows the Mets to move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base, which Cabrera recently said is his preference. It also allows the Mets to have certainty at third, a position that Alderson said has “been problematic for us for a couple of years.”
Frazier said he has texted with Wright and “he’s really excited to have me on the team and I’m excited to be on the team with him.”
There has been speculation that Frazier has agreed to move to first if Wright is able to play. But Alderson suggested Wright may have to be the one to move across the diamond, presumably because of a shoulder condition that affects his throwing.
“We’ll deal with that,” Alderson said. “You can never have too many good players. So if David is healthy and whether he’s healthy and can play third or if he needs to play first, we’ll deal with that as we see how his condition evolves.”
The Mets have missed Wright’s ability from his glory days and his leadership. Frazier should help in the clubhouse. His half-season with the Yankees showed him to be an ebullient presence, or, as Alderson put it, “a big personality from Jersey.”
Frazier’s Jersey roots are always with him, whether it’s his unmistakable accent or the memories of his 1998 Little League World Series championship team from Toms River.
In one of life’s happy coincidences, Frazier will be returning to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, site of the Little League World Series, this summer. The Mets and Phillies will play in the second MLB Little League Classic at Bowman Field on Aug. 19.
“That is something that’s really cool,” Frazier said. “Steve Keener, the (Little League) president, hit me up literally 20 minutes after it went public. He’s like, ‘You know what’s going on?’ I’m like, ‘This is just unbelievable.’ This is just very fortuitous. We’ve got something planned big over there. I haven’t been back there in 20 years.”
When the offseason began, Frazier probably hoped he was going back to the Yankees, who enter spring training with rookie Miguel Andujar as their leading third-base candidate.
“We had a lot of conversations with the Yankees,” Frazier said. He left it at that. He’s a Met now.
Notes & quotes: To make room for Frazier on the 40-man roster, the Mets designated infielder Matt Reynolds for assignment.