O's sign versatile Frazier to fill multiple holes

December 15th, 2022

This offseason, the Orioles had been seeking a left-handed hitter who could play second base and/or corner outfield. Adam Frazier checked all of those boxes.

On Thursday, Baltimore announced it signed the 31-year-old Frazier to a one-year contract for the 2023 season. The deal is worth $8 million, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Frazier, a seven-year big league veteran, spent the first 5 1/2 seasons of his MLB career with the Pirates, before he was moved to the Padres at the 2021 Trade Deadline. He earned the lone All-Star selection of his career in ‘21, when he batted .305/.368/.411 with five homers, 36 doubles and 43 RBIs in 155 games.

Last offseason, Frazier was traded from San Diego to Seattle. He hit .238/.301/.311 with three homers, 22 doubles and 42 RBIs in a career-high 156 games in his lone season with the Mariners, helping them reach the postseason. Frazier went 4-for-9 with a double and an RBI in Seattle’s American League Wild Card Series sweep of Toronto, then went 1-for-14 as the Mariners got swept by the Astros in the AL Division Series.

Frazier has mostly played second base, where he’s made 515 of his 643 career starts. But he also has substantial experience in the outfield, having made 88 starts in left field, 28 in right and even six in center.

Prior to adding Frazier, the O’s projected infield for ‘23 had Gunnar Henderson (the club’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 2 prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline) at third base, Jorge Mateo at shortstop and Ramón Urías (a Gold Glover at third this past season) at second. Now, it’s likely Frazier could handle most of the work at second, shifting Urías into more of a utility role.

It’s also possible Frazier will play some corner outfield, considering general manager Mike Elias said at last week’s Winter Meetings that he’d like having the flexibility to allow Austin Hays and Anthony Santander to get off their feet more, spending some additional time at designated hitter. Frazier will allow Baltimore to do that with some of its infielders, too.

The Frazier signing is similar to past moves made by Elias, who hasn’t inked a free agent to a multi-year deal since becoming GM in November 2018. Last offseason, the O’s brought in Rougned Odor, who made 111 starts at second and is now unlikely to return.

However, Frazier should be an upgrade in that spot, as his offensive numbers are better across the board (his career 99 OPS+ is just below league average). He’s also a solid defender at second, where he had 6 Outs Above Average (eighth most in MLB at the position) this past season, according to Statcast.

The Orioles -- who signed veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson to a one-year deal earlier this month -- now have a full 40-man roster. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done adding players, though, as they’ve remained in the market for another starting pitcher and a backup catcher.