Prior to the 2013 MLB season, Seattle Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin was one of the most notable hitting prospects in baseball. He was a big target of discussion in fantasy baseball, as his potential as a power-speed combo made him look like a future stud. Franklin’s performance after being called up to the majors last year was pretty underwhelming, as he batted just .225 with 12 home runs and 6 steals in 102 games. However, the 22-year-old still has plenty of potential and it’s far too early to give up on him.
Unfortunately for him, Robinson Cano has the second base position in Seattle locked up for the next decade. On top of that, the Mariners starting shortstop gig is currently owned by 24-year-old Brad Miller, whom leads all of spring training with a 1.395 OPS. While the team has been experimenting with him in the outfield, it all just covers up the fact that there is truly no open spot for Franklin in the lineup. Therefore, it really wouldn’t be a surprise to see the youngster traded sometime this season.
Thus, I’m bringing you 5 completely hypothetical trade scenarios that would send Franklin away from Seattle and to somewhere where he can be a team’s future second baseman. I don’t have any strong belief that any of these trades will happen, but it’s fun to make speculations.
NOTE: I do realize that the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays have been the two teams most recently interested in acquiring Franklin, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around a trade that makes sense for either of those clubs. While these trades would probably also include multiple other players from either side, I’m just focusing on the biggest pieces that would hypothetically be dealt. Regardless, here are the five scenarios I’ve come up with:
San Francisco Giants trade RHP Kyle Crick: San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro is now 38 years old and is dealing with back problems that could put him on the DL for much of his next two seasons with the team. While Scutaro can still hit for contact, he contributes very little else with his bat and is way too old to be considered the team’s second baseman in the long run. Thus, the Giants may be willing to get younger at the position with a trade for Franklin. Flame-throwing prospect Kyle Crick could be a piece that they’d be willing to move in order to get a hold of him. While Crick has a plenty of upside in his mid-90’s fastball and excellent slider, he hasn’t been able to figure out his control issues. Walking 5.1 batters per 9 innings last season is could be a sign of a tough road ahead for the youngster, one reason that the Giants maybe willing to deal him. On top of that, San Francisco has locked up aces Matt Cain and Madsion Bumgarner until 2018 and 2019 respectively. The front office likely sees pitching as the team’s strong point and may not look at Crick as huge loss. For the Mariners, this would be another high-upside pitcher that could someday add depth to an already great rotation.
Toronto Blue Jays trade RHP Marcus Stroman: Currently, the Toronto Blue Jays best options at second base are borderline depressing. 26-year-old Ryan Goins slashed just .257/.311/.369 in Triple-A last season, while veteran Maicer Izturis held a .597 OPS in 107 games with the Blue Jays in 2013. Neither player should be expected to produce much for the team on the offensive side of the ball in 2014 and beyond, making second base a blaring need for Toronto. The team also isn’t very strong at pitching, so they likely wouldn’t be confident enough to trade top pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez. However, that doesn’t mean they’d shy away from dealing their second-best prospect in Marcus Stroman. The 22-year-old is a hard-thrower with a low-90’s fastball, a good slider, cutter, and has already shown off excellent control. Stroman recorded a 3.11 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, and 10.4 K/9 in his 111.2 innings with Double-A New Hampshire last season. While he’s been impressive, Toronto may feel it’s worth trading him if they can improve their batting lineup. This trade could probably be good straight up or perhaps with one of the Mariners’ young pitching prospects going to the Blue Jays.
New York Mets trade RHP Rafael Montero: Unlike some other teams on this list, the New York Mets have actually shown interest in dealing for Nick Franklin. While they have a consistent second baseman in 28-year-old Daniel Murphy, the team has been talking about trading him and will need to fill that hole eventually. If they don’t do that, they’ve also taken into consideration the idea of trying Franklin out at shortstop if they were to trade for him. Regardless of what they’d do with him in the middle infield, the team would be happy to have a young player that can add some offense to a lineup that has produced very poorly over the last few seasons. This may compel the team’s front office to deal pitching prospect Rafael Montero. This right-hander has good velocity to his fastball, a couple of solid secondary offerings in his change-up and slider, and impressive control for a 23-year-old. Montero recorded a 2.78 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9 between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas last season. While this was very good, the Mets are deep enough in young pitching that they can afford to part ways with a prospect like Montero. With Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and prospect Noah Syndergaard in the team’s future rotation, the team could have one of the most feared pitching rotation’s in baseball as soon as 2015. Thus, the Amazin’s probably wouldn’t be too afraid to take a high-upside bat in exchange for him. Montero would likely be a back of the rotation guy for the pitching-deep Mariners, but he could certainly perform better than that.
New York Yankees trade RHP David Phelps, OF Mason Williams, and OF Tyler Austin: The New York Yankees options at second base for the 2014 season and beyond are downright lousy. The numbers alone are hard to ignore. Veteran Brian Roberts has averaged 48 games played throughout the past four seasons due to a slew of injuries, Brendan Ryan has batted .196 in 726 at bats from 2012 to 2013 (not to mention, he’ll start the season on the DL), and Eduardo Nunez is a below-average hitter with injury issues of his own. Thus, the organization would probably love to get their hands on Nick Franklin. The only problem is that the Yankees have very little to offer the Mariners. There are almost no positional players on their roster worth trading due to age, expensive contracts, and/or overall quality. With Michael Pineda winning the job as the Yankees 5th starter, staring pitcher David Phelps is probably the best piece they have to offer from their major league roster. Seattle has shown interest, sending scouts to watch his starts at times during spring training. While the Yankees have a subpar farm system, they would need to give the Mariners something more than just Phelps. Though they both struggled last year, the Mariners might take the upside of outfielders Tyler Austin and Mason Williams and hope one of them works out.
Baltimore Orioles trade RHP Eduardo Rodriguez and LHP Zach Britton: With Steve Lombardozzi, Jonathan Schoop, and Ryan Flaherty as Baltimore’s main options at second base, the Orioles have no obvious option for 2014 and beyond. This is why they’ve shown interest in trading for Franklin already, and should continue to be shopping for a long-term second baseman. Baltimore’s top two prospects in pitchers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are pretty much untouchable, so the Mariners probably wouldn’t be able to get either of these future aces from them. Therefore, Seattle would have to settle for third best prospect in Eduardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez employs a low-90’s fastball, and a slider and change-up as his two best secondary pitches. Additionally, he has shown good control in his first few seasons in the minors, which makes him seem like a low-risk bet to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. More rotation depth is always good, and the Mariners would probably be happy to also receive a flier in former top prospect Zach Britton. Britton has encountered velocity issues in the past, but he’s back up in the low-to-mid-90’s this spring and has shown promise that he can make a comeback. This would be sweetener for Seattle, who would probably like as much as many high-upside players as they can get for Franklin.