Adam Frazier joins the Royals. Why he’s primed for a different role this season

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Adam Frazier will have a few familiar faces in the Kansas City Royals’ clubhouse.

Frazier, 32, reunites with college teammates Chris Stratton and Hunter Renfroe this season. The trio starred at Mississippi State and have become established major-league veterans.

The Royals signed Stratton and Renfroe earlier this offseason. On Tuesday, KC officially signed Frazier to a one-year contract with a mutual option for the 2025 season.

“We’re very excited about that,” Frazier said. “It’s pretty cool to see, you know, 10 years later you’re playing with guys that you grew up with. So we are looking forward to it.”

The Royals had a need for a versatile left-handed infielder. Frazier can play second base and both corner outfield spots. Last season, Frazier hit .240 with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs in 141 games with the Baltimore Orioles.

Frazier joins the Royals’ revamped roster that includes fellow offseason signees Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, Will Smith and Garrett Hampson. The Royals also traded for pitchers Nick Anderson and Kyle Wright in separate deals with the Atlanta Braves.

“You see the young talent that’s on this team and how tough they are to play against, you know, it’s something I was interested in joining, to go with the opportunity to be able to play a lot of second base and some corner outfield,” Frazier said. “And, like in the offseason signings that they’ve already had, I think this team is in a great position to compete and that was something I wanted to be a part of.”

The Royals plan to deploy Frazier in multiple ways. Frazier appeared in 116 games at second base with the Orioles last season. In his career, Frazier has logged 118 games in left field, 14 games in center field and 65 games in right field.

Royals general manager J.J. Picollo was candid about using Frazier’s positional versatility prior to the veteran signing. He mentioned that both sides were clear on a potential role heading into the 2024 season.

“I think ... that’s just being fair to a guy that’s earned the right to free agency,” Picollo said. “You know, you don’t ever want to mislead somebody with what our current situation is. Now, a lot of things can happen during the course of a season. It does come down to: Guys (have) got to produce.

“But with Adam’s history, we feel he can protect us so to speak in a lot of ways. Really, that’s just the way we need to operate. It wouldn’t be fair to him to not represent what the situation was like, and what we think about our own players right now.”

The Royals have Michael Massey entrenched at second base. He is set to enter the 2024 campaign at the keystone position. Massey hit .229 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 428 at-bats last season.

Frazier will add another veteran presence in the clubhouse. He also provides roster depth and balances the offense as a fifth left-handed hitter. However, Picollo was clear the Royals view Massey as a key piece to their future plans.

“Michael needs to be a big part of our team and we shared that with Adam last week,” Picollo said. “I think you’ve got to keep in mind that we were focusing on another left-handed bat. So, Michael Massey not being on this team defeats that purpose. Having five guys that were left-handed was important to us. So there is a way to make this all work.”

One way to make it work is with different lineup combinations. Royals manager Matt Quatraro likes to mix lineups depending on the matchup. There could be lineups where Frazier is in the outfield and Massey is at second base.

Other times, Frazier might start at second base while Massey has an off day. Quatraro noted the playing situation will balance out. The key will be managing roster depth on a consistent basis.

“We’ve explained this to the guys since day one, you can never have enough good players,” Quatraro said. “Because unforeseen things happen, under-performance, injuries, whatever the case is. To a man, every one of the guys we’ve talked to that’s, you know, that was here last year understands that nobody wants to go through a year like that again. They all want to win and Adam is the kind of guy that wants to win more than anybody.”

So what does Frazier bring to the Royals? The eight-year veteran is a solid contact hitter who can help the offense.

Frazier recorded 99 hits, 68 strikeouts and 32 walks in 455 plate appearances last season. He had a 14.9 strikeout percentage and hit .271 against fastballs, per Baseball Savant. Additionally, Frazier had a 19.2% whiff percentage that ranked in the 84th percentile of all qualified hitters.

The Royals value Frazier’s offensive approach. He can hit the baseball to all fields and that could serve him well at Kauffman Stadium. Frazier has nine hits and an .888 OPS (on-base plus slugging) in 10 career games at the venue.

“... Something I take pride in is putting the ball in play,” Frazier said. “So like, you don’t do the team any good if you go up there and strike out. You’ve got to play the game, the situation of the game, whether it’s to move a guy, take a single and get an RBI, whatever it may be. That’s what I always kind of tried to do.”

Frazier has shined defensively as well. He was a Rawlings Gold Glove finalist twice in his career and has a .989 fielding percentage at second base since 2019.

The Royals will head to spring training in a few weeks. Royals pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Feb. 14. Meanwhile, the Royals’ first full-squad workout will be on Feb. 19 in Surprise, Arizona.

KC invited multiple players to big-league camp. Frazier is the latest player to join the group ahead of a critical spring training. In a corresponding move, the Royals traded infielder Samad Taylor to the Seattle Mariners.

“The additions are already made,” Frazier said. “I think this is going to put the team in a great spot to be in a game every night.”