The Seattle Mariners announced on Friday that Brad Miller had won the everyday shortstop position and consequently that Nick Franklin had been optioned to AAA-class-Tacoma Rainiers. Franklin, who has been subject to many trade rumours this offseason, now sits in a neat position to be traded. With the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers among others all said to be interested, Franklin could well be moved before the season begins.
The 23-year-old infielder had a quite impressive spring. In 17 games he compiled: 13 hits, eight walks, one home run and batted in six runners with a .265/.368/.408 slashline. He has proved himself to be a competent hitter with good defensive ability, making him a hot commodity on the trade market.
Last season, in his rookie year for the Mariners he collated a solid year. In 102 games he slugged 12 home runs whilst batting in 45 runners. He was walked 42 times but struck out an enormous 113 times, and had a .225/.303/.382 slashline. In 828 innings at second base he committed 12 errors, and was error free in 20 innings at shortstop.
Despite having a rather below average rookie season, Franklin still has a good market. With the Mets seriously considering an upgrade from their lacklustre shortstop, Ruben Tejada, the Queens franchise are vastly considered the front-runners. Given their depth in starting pitching, the Mets and Mariners are suitable trading partners too.
With veteran John Lannan set to miss out on the roster, he could potentially be used as trading bait, for example. The Tigers, who were desperately shopping around for a shortstop are probably out of the running now after they traded for Alex Gonzalez from the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees and Dodgers still have a need for infielders. With the Yankees having three injury prone infielders pencilled in, to play the season - Ryan Roberts, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira - along with minimal infield depth, they too could be big contenders in the Franklin sweepstakes. Furthermore, Kelly Johnson, who is set to be their everyday third baseman, has only played 14 games in the hot corner in all of his career.
The Dodgers are in a similar position too. With Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero not ready for the big leagues yet, they have Dee Gordon or Justin Turner set to play at second base and injury prone Hanley Ramirez at third. Again, with practically no infield depth, the Dodgers could really do with a trade for Franklin.
Similar to Stephen Drew, as I wrote yesterday, Franklin has a big market – providing there is a suitable trade. Franklin, unlike Drew, won’t demand a big salary or cost the team a draft pick, but is a worse player. With Franklin being optioned to AAA, the Mariners are set to move him, watch for the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers to swoop for Franklin.