Where could Franklin land and for who?
Despite the fact that Seattle Mariner’s skipper Lloyd McClendon has publicly stated that the shortstop competition between Nick Franklin and Brad Miller is a wide open chase, and that GM Jack Zduriencik has also stated that the loser of the competition is headed to AAA, the most common thought on the street is that the M’s are trying to move Franklin.
I’ve been steadfast in my thought that Franklin is actually a better fit for the Mariners at short right now, but the rumors overwhelmingly are against my thinking.
But what fun is spring training without some wild speculation?
With that in mind, who might the M’s partner with to move Franklin, if that is indeed their intent? The pickings might be thinner than you think.
The New York Mets
One of the teams most commonly linked with a potential Franklin deal is the New York Mets. I’m not sure there is much truth beyond these rumors however. Let’s separate a little fact from fiction here.
Yes, the Mets need a shortstop but let’s look at the numbers here for a second. Franklin hit .225 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles and 45 RBI in 102 games played last season.
The Mets’ current shortstop, Omar Quintanilla put up similar numbers. Quintanilla hit .222 with two home runs, nine doubles and 21 RBI in 95 games played last season.
In a straight up comparison these numbers are pretty much the same.
The difference is that Quintanilla is a 32-year-old entering the twilight of his career and his numbers are not nearly as likely to improve as the 22-year-old Franklin’s. Franklin at 22, is already showing considerably more power as well.
Ok, so I can accept that Franklin is an improvement for the Mets at short. Where the deal starts to fall apart is when you look at what the Mets have to send back to Seattle.
The Mariners are most likely going to demand a major league ready starting pitcher whom they can control for a few years in return for Franklin.
With Taijuan Walker sitting for the next week with some soreness in his shoulder and his ability to start the season on time in doubt, starting pitchers are suddenly a major priority for the M’s. Keep in mind Hisashi Iwakuma isn’t even touching a baseball now for another 3 weeks at least.
The Mets just don’t have a starting pitcher surplus that is attractive, at least that they are willing to part with.
If this discussion is actually taking place I envision the Mets trying to get away with sending someone like Jacob deGrom or Dillon Gee in exchange. Gee is probably the better of the two but both project as #4 or #5 rotation guys at best.
What the Mets likely don’t want to part with is a starting prospect like Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard is a mammoth 6’6″, 240 lb power presence on the mound.
He’s averaged right around an even 3.00 ERA for the past few seasons in the Mets’ farm system while striking out better than 1 batter per inning.
This is the kind of deal that would make sense if the M’s really want to go down this road. They need to be on the high end the deal, and Syndergaard is the one guy the Mets have that tips the potential deal to the M’s favor.
Would the Mets pull the trigger on that deal? My gut says no. They are not quite that desperate, at least not yet.
The Tampa Bay Rays
In all honesty, I think the only reason the Tampa Bay Rays get mentioned in Franklin trade talks is because of all the previous speculation this offseason centered around a Walker/Franklin package for David Price.
If you were one of the M’s fans jumping up and down for this deal to happen, STOP IT! It isn’t going to happen.
David Price has been very clear that he has no intention of signing an extension with Seattle. Big Jack has also said he has no desire to move Walker. Those two facts right there kill any potential move the M’s could make for Price.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Franklin doesn’t head to Tampa Bay for someone else.
The problems start with this potential matchup when you remember that Seattle is going to want a young starting pitcher in return. The Ray’s just lost starter Jeremy Hellickson to injury. Now, just like the M’s, they are not going to want to offer up a starter in any deal that doesn’t return one.
Hellickson was not a good return for the M’s anyway but he did eat a lot of innings and his loss makes it tough for the Rays to give up the guy who should be the real target for the M’s, Jake Odorizzi.
Odorizzi is just 23 years old and has shown pretty good stuff in his young minor league career. In addition to the injury problems the Rays have at pitcher, the fact that Odorizzi is considered to be the Ray’s top prospect makes this deal unlikely as well.
So what will happen?
I still think Franklin will wind up beating out Miller for short stop during spring training and he’s going to do it with his bat, not his glove.
The M’s are going to have to solve their early season starting pitching injury woes another way.
Ervin Santana you have a call on line three. Some guy named Jack wants to talk to you.