On a Zoom call earlier this offseason, Orioles general manager Mike Elias asked Adam Frazier what hitting adjustments the seven-year big league veteran was planning on making this winter, coming off a bit of a down 2022 season. So, Frazier went into detail.
He needs to do a better job of driving his feet into the ground in the batter’s box. He wants to simplify his approach. And perhaps most importantly, he hopes to get back to spraying balls all over the field, which was a strength early in his career.
Then, Elias pulled up a frame showing Frazier’s swing from one of his at-bats that showcased why those were the exact right answers.
“It seemed like they’ve done their homework on myself and seems like we kind of view things in a similar manner,” Frazier said.
That appealed to Frazier as he went through the process of free agency, and it’s why he ended up signing a one-year deal to come to Baltimore for the 2023 season on Thursday. It’s a seemingly good fit for both sides, given what they each hope to accomplish.
The O’s landed a left-handed hitter who can mostly play second base and also fill in at the corner-outfield spots. Frazier is joining a team on the rise that may perform well enough to give him another taste of the postseason, which he experienced for the first time with the Mariners in 2022.
“Just the opportunity to be on a young, fun team that's hungry and really good,” Frazier said, “that's exciting for myself, to be able to join up with a group like that.”
The past year brought conflicting emotions for Frazier. While he experienced team success in Seattle, his individual performance wasn’t quite up to par with the previous six seasons of his Major League career (5 1/2 years in Pittsburgh, then a 57-game stint in San Diego).
Frazier played a career-high 156 games for the Mariners, but he posted a career-low .612 OPS. The bat-to-ball skills he prides himself on weren’t translating to getting on base frequently.
However, Frazier also delivered one of the biggest hits of Seattle’s postseason run -- a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series that lifted the Mariners to a 10-9 victory and a two-game sweep of the Blue Jays.
“Even when I felt like I was going good, I hit balls right at guys,” Frazier said. “But it was also the most fun I ever had playing the game -- most fun since college, at least. Winning does a lot for that. I kind of put my personal stuff aside and just tried to do anything I could to help the team win that night. That’s what it came down to.”
If Frazier can get closer to the All-Star form he showed in 2021, he may help the Orioles win in a lot of ways in ‘23. In addition to his high on-base potential, his flexibility will help Baltimore keep its other infielders (Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías) and corner outfielders (Austin Hays and Anthony Santander) fresh by giving them more off-days or additional time at designated hitter.
But Frazier hopes to become an everyday staple in the O’s lineup. And he’ll keep working until his bat forces Baltimore to start him as often as possible.
“I know it’s in there,” Frazier said. “It’s just a matter of simplifying a few things.”
Frazier (who will make $8 million in 2023, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand) joined right-hander Kyle Gibson (a one-year deal for $10 million) as the Orioles’ Major League free-agent acquisitions so far this offseason. Both had similar realizations after signing their contracts.
The 35-year-old Gibson looked over the roster and noticed no other player was older than 30. Now, the 31-year-old Frazier slots in as the second-oldest member of the O’s.
That’s an exciting aspect of coming to Baltimore for Frazier, too.
“I got a little taste of being able to be that veteran-type guy last year in Seattle. A lot of the same kind of qualities in that team as Baltimore has,” Frazier said. “It’s a lot of fun for me. Coming from the outside, just watching them and playing against them, the excitement that they had and the energy they brought each and every night -- looking forward to that and hitting the ground running.”