Agreeing to an enormous free agent deal with Robinson Cano was the “big move” of the offseason for the Seattle Mariners, but the deal could have some as-yet-to-be-determined consequences with regards to the remainder of the team’s active roster. Specifically, Cano’s presence and the fact that he’ll surely be penciled in as the team’s everyday second baseman likely means that one of Nick Franklin or Brad Miller is now expendable in Seattle.
ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin hears from industry sources that the team could move one of the two before Opening Day, noting that a trade involving Franklin is more likely.
Both Franklin and Miller would offer up an inexpensive and team-controlled option for years to come to a potentially interested organization, given their minimal service time to date. Each has the ability to handle both middle infield positions, but Miller is widely regarded as the better defender of the two. He impressed during his rookie campaign in 2013, batting .265/.318/.418 in 335 PA once he joined the team in late June. His 11 doubles, 6 triples, and 8 home runs suggest a rather balanced offensive output that could develop nicely in Seattle’s lineup, while there’s also some internal belief that he could be an option to leadoff in time. Having started the 2013 at Double-A, Miller’s ascension to the Mariners’ starting lineup wasn’t expected to happen quite so quickly.
Franklin, a natural shortstop, saw most of his playing time come at second base after joining the Mariners in late May. He’d gotten off to a strong start at Triple-A and with the team’s second baseman, Dustin Ackley, struggling at the plate an opening was created for Franklin. He’d hit .225/.303/.382 over 412 PA once he joined the Mariners. Franklin displaced Ackley, forcing the latter to the outfield, and is now seemingly displaced by Cano.
While there had been rumblings that the Mariners would move one of the two players dating back to Cano’s signing (multiple teams, including the New York Yankees, were believed to have expressed interest in Franklin at that point), there’s been little discussion about a potential deal since. Heading into camp the two players were expected to compete for the team’s starting shortstop job, despite it being clear that Miller was viewed as the favorite.
Rubin suggests that the New York Mets could prove to be an option, should Seattle seriously look to move one of the two players. Franklin or Miller would offer up another shortstop option for the Mets that could serve as an upgrade over the team’s projected starter, Ruben Tejada. The team’s been rumored to be looking for an upgrade for much of the offseason, but doesn’t seem interested in the contract it would take to bring Stephen Drew into the mix. It’s unclear what it might cost to acquire Franklin or Miller from Seattle, but the cost would certainly be less than what it would take to bring Drew into the mix.
Should Seattle seriously look to move one of Franklin or Miller there should be a fair amount of interest across the league. Cost-controlled shortstops are a rare commodity, but one that won’t likely bring the Mariners a substantial return.