DES MOINES, Iowa – Outfielder Jackson Frazier describes the Cubs’ decision to designate him for assignment the last time they were in New York as “cold.”
In less than a year, Frazier – who professionally went by his first name, Clint, until a few months ago – went from signing with the Cubs for the promise of a fresh start, to telling the Sun-Times on Wednesday that he doesn’t see a future with the Cubs after this season, and that was clear to him as soon as the Cubs DFA’d him.
He accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Iowa after being DFA’d in mid-June because rejecting it would have meant forfeiting the remaining guaranteed money on his contract.
“Things happen, and I’m not really holding on to too much of what I’ve gone through already,” he said. “But, definitely, it was pretty clear whenever it happened what I was gonna do.”
Frazier plans to play in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, looking to boost his value in free agency.
“I’m gonna go down there with the hope of ending the season on a better note,” he said, “trying to give myself a better opportunity to have a shot next year at whatever it is that’s going to be offered to me and go from there. Because certainly, it’s been ugly down here since the second half started.
“I’d like to prove to people that this is not the player that I’ve become; it’s just something that I’ve been going through.”
Since a 12-game hitting streak in July, Frazier has been batting .100 in Triple-A. The Cubs identified swing adjustments for Frazier earlier in the year, but his work has yet to produce consistent results at the plate. He said he’s even reached out to outside hitting coaches who he’s worked with before for additional input.
Frazier has always had a bit of a hitch in his swing, his barrel tipping forward before he throws his hands to the ball. But the hitch has grown more dramatic.
“I don’t know how it happened,” he said. “Something that was so natural to me finally isn’t natural. And I don’t know how to get out of it.”
The issue compounded an rollercoaster of a season for Frazier. After a strong start to spring training, he started slumping. Between outfield platoons and a month-long IL stint for an appendectomy, he only got 45 major-league plate appearances before the Cubs DFA’d him.
The place and time had added to the sting. Frazier had started his major-league career in New York, but the relationship turned sour, and the Yankees released him after the 2021 season.
He’d signed with the Cubs just before the lockout. The one-year, $1.5 million deal set up the potential for Frazier to be a long-term piece for the rebuilding club. Frazier was arbitration-eligible for two more years after 2022. He was also reuniting with Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins, who was part of Cleveland’s player development department when they drafted Frazier in 2013.
“The biggest thing for me was, why did they sign me?” he said. “I had other chances to potentially go other places.”
On June 10 he found himself back in New York, in the Yankee Stadium visitors’ clubhouse with Cubs manager David Ross and on the phone with Hawkins, learning that he’d been DFA’d. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer hadn’t yet arrived in New York for the series. Hawkins knew Frazier better anyways.
“We had an off day the day before, and to DFA me in the locker room, and then do it over the phone as well, it was not the easiest,” Frazier said.
It’s standard for clubs to wait until the last minute to officially make roster moves, especially ones that can be career-altering, in case of changing circumstances. In this case, it meant that reporters were waiting in the hallway outside of the clubhouse hoping to catch Frazier on his way out. They were asked to give him space to process the news.
Frazier still had a minor-league option remaining, but DFAing him opened a 40-man roster spot to reinstate reliever Chris Martin from the restricted list.
“We haven’t been able to give him real opportunities to watch him succeed right now,” manager David Ross said of Frazier at the time. “Some tough decisions.”
The club didn’t think of the move as a “goodbye,” but in effect, it was everything but.