The Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners pulled off a blockbuster trade on Monday. Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez are off to the Emerald City, while Seattle sent left-hander Brandon Williamson, right-hander Justin Dunn, and outfielder Jake Fraley to the Redlegs. Where does Fraley fit in the Cincinnati outfield?
One look at Fraley's stats and you might not be too enamored by the 26-year-old's .656 career-OPS. But, Fraley played better in 2021, recording a .721 OPS, and OPS+ of 104, and was worth 1.6 bWAR. Fraley likely profiles as a rotational outfielder for the Reds in 2022.
What role will Jake Fraley play for the Reds in 2022?
Jake Fraley is pre-arbitration eligible, meaning he'll be making the league minimum of $700K. That alone is enough to make Cincinnati Reds CEO Bob Castellini happy. All kidding aside, Fraley has an incredible eye at the dish and his success against right-handed pitching is something the Reds will look to capitalize on during the upcoming season.
Fraley can play all three outfield spots, but Reds fans will likely see the former second-round pick nab most of his starts in either left or center field. Fraley is an average to above-average defender but his below-average arm doesn't setup too well to play right field. Fraley does have plus-speed, however, so tracking down balls in Great American Ball Park will be fun to watch.
It's easy to see Jake Fraley hitting at the bottom of the Cincinnati Reds batting order, especially with the addition of the designated hitter to the National League. With Jonathan India likely to be hitting leadoff once again in 2022, Fraley could put some speed on the base paths ahead of last year's NL Rookie of the Year. Our friends over Sodo Mojo had this to say about Fraley:
""Fraley has an insane eye, and was third in all of baseball for BB-rate (17.4%) in 2021. He wasn't the same after coming back from (his time on the) COVID (list). A full offseason to get healthy makes him a solid No. 3 outfielder with quiet 20/20 potential based off five home runs and four stolen bases in June in 2021.""- SoDo Mojo, FanSided's Mariners site
I wouldn't get too excited about seeing Fraley get ABs when a lefty toes the rubber though. Last season, Fraley slashed just .169/.306/.225 versus southpaws. But, against right-handed pitchers, Fraley posted a .374 on-base percentage and an OPS of .815. Eight of Fraley's nine round trippers in 2021 came against right-handed pitchers.
One might see an all left-handed hitting outfield on David Bell's lineup card in 2022 when the opposing starting pitcher is right-handed. The trio of Jake Fraley (LF), TJ Friedl (CF), and Tyler Naquin (RF) could be deployed on the grass at GABP on a regular basis.