The Pirates lost one of their veteran presences in camp, as Todd Frazier has opted out of his Minor League contract with the Pirates.
Frazier, 35, agreed to a deal with Pittsburgh on Feb. 20, giving the Pirates an experienced option at both infield corners. He fared well in camp, slashing .250/.353/.643 and leading the team in home runs with three in 12 games.
Manager Derek Shelton said the team was looking to carry someone on the roster with more infield versatility than Frazier, who plays the two corner spots, while others like Phillip Evans and Wilmer Difo play all four positions.
“I don’t know if we’re going to take 14 or if we’re going to take 13 pitchers,” Shelton said. “If we do take 14 pitchers, then versatility is going to be really important, and I think that kind of led to our decision.”
Frazier’s spot on the team was not a given, even with his 10 years of Major League experience. Ke’Bryan Hayes is set to get the vast majority of reps at third base in 2021, with Colin Moran holding down first base.
“It’s a non-roster deal,” general manager Ben Cherington said shortly after signing Frazier. “Todd is obviously really aware of that. He’s coming into camp understanding no guarantees, but we’re excited to have him here. There are other guys on this roster already who check a lot of those boxes I just shared, too, who will be in that competition as well.”
Shelton said that Frazier had a good influence on the Pirates in camp, bringing a positive personality to the team and giving some of the younger players great insight into the Major League game.
“He was great in the clubhouse, did a nice job in the field. I really enjoyed the time being around him,” Shelton said. “He’s a fun guy to be around, a good player.”
With Frazier opting out of his contract, Evans appears set up to once again be the primary infield utility option for the Pirates. Evans hit 14-for-39 with two doubles and a homer in 2020 before having his season end due to a collision with Gregory Polanco. But Evans has picked up right where he left off, batting 13-for-32 (.406) with a double this spring.