As it has been expected for some time, the Cincinnati Reds are reportedly in an all-out fire sale. Every single player on the roster is expected to be available, and the Reds will be most likely looking for prospects in return. The most obvious candidate for the Cleveland Indians to pursue is Todd Frazier, but could a trade between the two Ohio teams actually happen?
Frazier fills a position that could benefit from an upgrade, he is a good fielder, and he has a great power bat, so on the surface trading for him seems like a good idea. The most obvious hole in Frazier's game is not getting on base at an elite level, his .321 career OBP is not going to have him hitting leadoff anytime soon, but he has the power that the Indians need right now. Cleveland ranked near the bottom of every power-related metric among American League teams in 2015 (13th in home runs, 12th in ISO, 11th in SLG), and that could get even worse next year if Michael Brantley does not come back quickly and at full health following surgery on his torn labrum. Meanwhile, Frazier can be a major power upgrade over Giovanny Urshela while also playing well on defense.
In a perfect world where the Indians can just pluck players from other teams without giving something in return, Frazier is the perfect addition. However, that is not the world we live in, and the Reds are in a position to ask for a big haul in return for Frazier. He is only 29 and worth 12.2 fWAR over the last three seasons, so any team who acquires him would be safe to assume that his production will not fall off a cliff.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati and Cleveland’s prospect pools are relatively even, so dealing strictly in prospects could be tricky for the Indians. Trading Bradley Zimmer or Clint Frazier for two years of Todd Frazier is ludicrous, but they could work around someone like pitcher Rob Kaminsky, shortstop Erik Gonzalez, or even outfielder Tyler Naquin. Outside of that we are getting into "trade a bunch of our junk for your star player" territory, which the Reds are not likely to do, no matter how many people call into local radio shows and demand it.
What the Indians do have to trade is starting pitching, but that does not match up well either. The Reds are not looking at a playoff window in the next couple years, so even getting Carlos Carrasco--who has a team-friendly contract until 2020--does not do them a whole lot of good in the long run. Not to mention trading any one of Carrasco, Danny Salazar, or
Trevor Bauer* for a two years of Todd Frazier would be insane.
*I mistakenly thought Frazier was only under team control for one year when I included Bauer in this list. If the Reds would actually do this deal for two years of Frazier, then by all means go for it.
So while going after Todd Frazier may sound extremely tempting, and it would solve a lot of immediate issues, the Indians are just not in a position to help a team as early on into a rebuild as the Reds for two years worth of a power-hitting third baseman. Maybe hold off on pre-ordering your Frazier Indians jersey.