Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin is “a top target” of the Athletics as they explore upgrades at the keystone, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Franklin’s name has been a fixture in trade rumors ever since the M’s signed Robinson Cano, with the Royals and Rays among the clubs most recently connected to the 23-year-old infielder.
As Slusser notes, there are some obstacles in the way of an Oakland/Seattle trade match on Franklin, mainly that the Mariners may not be interested in helping a division rival. The Mariners are also known to be asking for a high price for Franklin, and the A’s may not have enough young talent left in the system following their recent major trade with the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Franklin played 104 games for Seattle in 2013 and was seemingly being groomed as the Mariners’ second baseman of the future before Cano signed. Franklin has appeared in only 17 games with the M’s this season and has spent most of the year dominating minor league pitching — he owns a .300/.394/.481 slash line in 283 PA at Triple-A Tacoma. With experience at both second and shortstop, Franklin could be a fit for the A’s at either position; Oakland’s long-term shortstop plans are somewhat in flux with Addison Russell traded and Jed Lowrie set for free agency this winter, though 2012 first-rounder Daniel Robertson is enjoying a big year at high-A ball.
Among more experienced second base targets, Ben Zobrist may not be a fit for the Athletics since the Rays want a big return for the utilityman, and he may not be available anyway since Tampa remains on the fringes of the AL East race. The Phillies had one of their top scouts at Sunday’s A’s/Orioles game, which could hint at a connection with Chase Utley, though Slusser notes that Baltimore could be looking for second base help as well.