The trade buzz on Nick Franklin is picking up again as both the Yankees and Tigers continue to get meager production from their shortstop position. And while there’s nothing to suggest that the Mets have any revived interest in the Mariners prospect, that could change if Ruben Tejada doesn’t start picking it up at the plate.
Franklin, who just turned 23, is currently tearing up the Pacific Coast League, slashing at an incredible .410/.489/.785 clip in 45 plate appearances. The former Seattle first rounder has hit three home runs with 11 RBIs and seven runs scored, while drawing eight walks. He has a 1.207 OPS on the season for Tacoma, and in a much larger sample size posted a .912 OPS last season for the same Tacoma team. Offensively, scouts say he’s the real deal.
With a .392 OBP in AA (335 PA) and a .370 OBP in AAA (518 PA), the switch-hitting Franklin could fill the Mets void at the top of their batting order. Franklin has good speed and has swiped 64 bases in parts of five minor league seasons.
Franklin started the season in the minors despite making his major league debut last season, as a result of the Mariners signing Robinson Cano to play second base, and Franklin losing a spring training shortstop battle with Brad Miller. Both infielders had solid springs but, but Miller had the edge defensively.
The Mariners have shown plenty of interest in trading Franklin, but won’t give him away. According to ESPN, the Mets, Tigers, Orioles and Yankees have all expressed varying degrees of interest in the past.
The Mets were reportedly scouting Franklin during spring training and the Mariners had several scouts following the Mets this spring as well however no negotiations developed. The Mariners are believed to want a young MLB ready starter in return for their prized asset.
“The Mets have been scouting Franklin to see whether he’d make a viable defensive shortstop, but one rival executive rated Franklin as ‘average to a tick below,’ suggesting he’s comparable to Jhonny Peralta,” CBS Sports reported last month.
With James Paxton going on the DL last week, the Mariners rotation is very questionable behind their ace Felix Hernandez. The Mets could probably snare Franklin with an offer of Rafael Montero or they could try and dangle a Dillon Gee or Jon Niese who are more established and could net the Mets an additional piece from the M’s instead, while opening up a rotation spot for Montero to make his MLB debut.
Franklin could always slide over to second base next season especially if they can’t work out an extension with Daniel Murphy who may even become trade bait at the deadline if the Mets find themselves too far back of a wild card spot. Murphy is already earning $5.7 million and enters his third year of arbitration after this season where he could see his salary spike to $8 million or more.
I’ve seen some analysts compare Franklin’s ceiling to Chase Utley. And if he can be as good as Peralta defensively for one year at shortstop, concerns about his glove are wildly overrated in my opinion.
Anyway, talk it out amongst yourselves Mets fans….