Mariners Could Deal Infielder Before Opening Day

Following the Mariners' signing of Robinson Cano, many speculated that Nick Franklin or Brad Miller would be displaced by the move. Several teams reportedly had interest in Franklin at the time, but there hasn't been too much chatter surrounding him in the two months since. That could change, as's Adam Rubin hears from industry sources that Seattle is likely to move Franklin or Miller prior to Opening Day, with Franklin being the more likely candidate.

While Franklin played shortstop more frequently than second base throughout the minors, most evaluators seem to feel that Miller is better equipped, from a defensive standpoint, to handle shortstop in Seattle going forward. As such, Franklin, who will turn 23 on March 2, finds himself without a clear role on the team (Kyle Seager is in at third base, not that Franklin has experience at the hot corner anyhow).

Franklin got off to a hot start upon being called up from Triple-A Tacoma last season, slashing .270/.337/.453 with six homers in 43 games (175 plate appearances) in the season's first half. However, following the All-Star break, Franklin slumped to a .194/.280/.333 batting line in 243 PAs. The result was a sub-par .225/.303/.382 triple-slash line. Still, Franklin is entering just his age-23 season and is no stranger to appearing on Top 100 prospect lists, having multiple appearances on those produced by Baseball America,, ESPN's Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus.

As Rubin notes in his piece, some teams could still view Franklin as an option at shortstop, meaning any team with a middle infield deficiency could have interest. Rubin points out that Franklin would be an upgrade over Ruben Tejada for the Mets, though he stops short of concretely citing interest on the Mets' behalf.

Of course, Rubin's report leaves open the possibility that the Mariners could deal Miller instead, who slashed .265/.318/.418 with eight homers and five steals as a 23-year-old rookie for Seattle in 2013. Both players would be controllable through the 2019 season, making them attractive long-term assets for teams with middle infield needs. The Mariners have been said to desire an additional power bat for their lineup as well as rotation help, and they may not wish to pay free-agent prices to land both. A trade of Miller or Franklin would certainly seem an alternative route to addressing one of those needs, while the addition of a free agent such as Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales could fill the second.