Ross: Cubs DFAing Frazier ‘one of those tough decisions'


Facing a 40-man roster crunch with numerous players nearing returns to the active roster, the Cubs sooner or later were going to face some decisions.

The first wave of those came Friday, highlighted by the move to designate for assignment promising, but unproven 27-year-old outfielder Clint Frazier.

The move cleared a 40-man roster space for reliever Chris Martin, who was activated off the restricted list Friday.

“We think a lot of Clint and his ability,” manager David Ross said. “It was just one of those tough decisions.”

Frazier, a former top-50 prospect who showed promise during five injury-riddled seasons with the Yankees, signed a one-year deal with the Cubs last November — viewed as a low-risk move with high upside.

He saw limited playing time with the Cubs, receiving 45 plate appearances across 19 games while missing a month after undergoing an appendectomy in April.

“His ability to show what he's capable of hasn't panned out,” said Ross of Frazier, who's hitting .216/.356/.297 in 19 games. “Not seeing how that is right now with how our roster is constructed, it's been really tough to find him a spot. 

“I think we still all believe that Clint Frazier has got a lot of really good baseball still and his ability," Ross added. "Him getting the opportunity to go out there and prove it is the hard part right now.”

The Cubs had a logjam on their outfield depth chart with Frazier, Ian Happ, Chris Morel, Jason Heyward and Rafael Ortega — two of the few lefty bats on the roster. That logjam doesn't include Seiya Suzuki, who’s nearing a return from the injured list (sprained left finger).

But with where they are in their process, this season is an opportunity for the Cubs to see what players like Frazier can do when given runway.

Frazier went 5-for-15 with five walks in seven games on the Cubs' last homestand.

The Frazier decision received blowback on social media amid another slow start by Jason Heyward, who’s owed over $40 million through 2023 — the final season of his eight-year contract.

Heyward, a leader in the clubhouse, valued member of the organization and one of the last links of the 2016 championship team, entered Friday hitting .217/.301/.272 in 33 games. He opened the season in a platoon in center field with Suzuki taking over in right.

Ross was asked whether Frazier could have taken at-bats from Heyward.

“No," Ross said. "J-Hey will get the right-handed at-bats."

Ross said Frazier was "upset" and “emotional” when given the news. He has minor-league options remaining but sending him to Triple-A would not have done anything for the 40-man jam.

The Cubs have seven days to trade him unless he’s claimed off waivers by another team.

“He likes it here a lot,” Ross said of Frazier. “He believes in his baseball skills, which we do too. It’s just one of those really tough decisions we have to make sometimes, which stink. 

“Nobody wants to make those. It’s part of this business, the hard part. Sometimes you’ve got to make those tough decisions. He’s worked his tail off and done nothing but be a great teammate here. 

“All of the players like him. The coaches like him a lot.”

Contributing from New York: Gordon Wittenmyer

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