The Yankees gave up on Clint Frazier on Friday night, designating him for assignment as part of a flurry of moves ahead of MLB’s deadline to set 40-man rosters.
The Yankees also designated for assignment infielders Tyler Wade and Rougned Odor and traded minor-leaguers Nick Nelson and Donny Sands to Philadelphia to clear five 40-man spots.
Those spots went to five minor-leaguers who had to be protected from possible selection in the upcoming Rule V draft. One was Long Island-born righthander Stephen Ridings, who made his big-league debut with the Yankees in 2021.
The Yankees lost righthander Garrett Whitlock to the Red Sox in last year’s Rule V draft and were flabbergasted when he turned into a dominant pitcher as a rookie.
"We got burned heavily last year in that regard," general manager Brian Cashman said on Thursday. "So we have a good, strong [farm] system. It provides a lot of difficult choices to make. We’ve got [an inflexible] roster, so we’re trying to create some flexibility. We’ll see if we have any luck in that way. If not, we’ll just have to make some tough decisions."
One of them, obviously, was letting go of Frazier, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft. He appeared to be a star in the making when the Yankees acquired him from Cleveland as part of the Andrew Miller trade in 2016.
Frazier, 27, was the starting leftfielder last season before a serious slump and even more serious health issues forced him to the injured list.
Frazier, who has had concussion issues in the past, suffered from dizziness and had vision problems last season. His final at-bat came on June 30. He finished his fifth season as a Yankee with a .186 average in 66 games.
When asked about Frazier on Thursday, Cashman gave no hint that the Yankees were about to cut him loose.
"Obviously, he’s going to have to fight his way back into it," he said. "He’s certainly more than capable of doing that. Most important is his health and being healthy. Once that’s in play, which I believe it is, then his journey can begin again."
Asked if Frazier had been cleared for spring training, Cashman said: "I think he’s getting there, but I don’t want to say he’s full go yet. I’d be overstepping on that. But he is in Georgia and he is doing some baseball activities."
Wade, 26, hit .268 and played a key role as a late-inning pinch runner for the Yankees in 2021, his fifth season with the club. Odor, 27, hit .202 with 15 homers after being acquired from the Rangers.
Frazier and Wade are arbitration-eligible. Odor still has a contract that Texas is paying.
The other prospects the Yankees added to their once-again-full 40-man roster are infielder Oswaldo Cabrera, righthander Ron Marinaccio, outfielder Everson Pereira and lefthander JP Sears.
Nelson went 0-2 with an 8.79 ERA in 11 appearances (two starts) with the Yankees in six stints in 2021. In that trade, the Yankees added infielder T.J. Rumfield and lefthander Joel Valdez from the Phillies. Neither has played above Low-A ball.
The Rule V draft is scheduled for Dec. 8 at the winter meetings, but it could be postponed along with all major league transactions if MLB locks out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1.