Nick Franklin Rumors
The Astros have made the promotion of George Springer and DFA of Lucas Harrell official by announcing each move via press release. As Houston fans (and fantasy baseball players) eagerly await Springer's big league debut, here's a look around the rest of the division...
- Springer won't be the only highly touted prospect to arrive in the Majors today; the Mariners will recall Nick Franklin from Triple-A Tacoma, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, who expects Logan Morrison to hit the DL in order to clear a 25-man roster spot. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter), Franklin could see some time in the outfield. Franklin, 23, got off to a blistering .395/.469/.744 start in 11 Triple-A games after an offseason loaded with trade speculation.
- Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker was scratched from last night's rehab start after complaining of stiffness in his arm, reports Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News Tribune. GM Jack Zduriencik said that Walker -- who is a consensus Top 10 prospect -- will be re-evaluated today. Seattle's rotation has been solid so far, but they've experienced a good deal of poor luck with injuries to Walker, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton.
- Jerry Brewer of Athletics Nation looks at Josh Reddick's struggles this season and tracks the history of pitches he's seen in two-strike counts dating back to 2012. Brewer notes that Reddick has long struggled against good fastballs and curveballs, while feasting on sliders and changeups. Pitchers are hammering Reddick with fastballs and curves thus far, and the result has been a 33 percent strikeout rate to go along with his .098/.196/.098 batting line. The A's are in a clear jam as they decide what to do with Reddick, Brewer writes. Reddick has a minor league option remaining, but he could see as much or even more velocity in Triple-A, which will contain no shortage of up-and-coming power arms.
Longtime Athletics starter Rich Harden is still pursuing his throwing program and is planning to hold a mid-season showcase, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Over 624 1/3 innings in seven seasons with the A's, the 32-year-old threw to a 3.65 ERA. Here are a few quick notes out of the AL West:
- Angels outfielder Brennan Boesch has a March 30 "soft out" in his deal, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. In essence, the clause requires the club to add him to its 25-man roster or allow him to go to any other team that is willing to do so. The 28-year-old has enjoyed a strong spring, putting up a .278/.350/.472 line in 40 plate appearances.
- Mariners infielder Nick Franklin has been spending some time working in the outfield, and says that he is simply "trying to be versatile," reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. The 23-year-old has been a hot subject of trade speculation, as he lacks a regular spot in the Seattle infield and could appeal to a variety of clubs. But his focus is on getting to the bigs with his current organization. "Some way, somehow I want to get on the field, whatever it takes," said Franklin. "What am I going to do, wait around for someone to get hurt?"
- Athletics outfielder Michael Taylor has learned that he will not make the Opening Day roster, reports Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. As the 28-year-old is out of options, he figures to be dealt or plucked off of the waiver wire, though a move has yet to be made. Once a top prospect, Taylor has certainly put his best foot forward this spring with a .274/.348/.532 line and three long balls in 69 plate appearances, though he has struck out 17 times while drawing six walks. Last year, in 481 trips to the plate at Triple-A, Taylor had a .281/.360/.474 triple-slash with 18 home runs.
- The division has two new additions from this morning, as the Mariners added starter Chris Young and the Astros claimed outfielder Alex Presley.
It's already been a busy day for shortstop news as we've heard that the Diamondbacks are looking to trade Didi Gregorius for pitching, the Cardinals are shopping Pete Kozma, and the Tigers have been asking teams about available shortstops, even scouting such options as Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Here are some more shortstop-related rumors...
- The Tigers aren't likely "to make a serious push" for Kozma, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports opines (Twitter link), because they have a similar player in Danny Worth.
- There haven't been any reports linking the Tigers to the Mariners' Nick Franklin, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Franklin is perhaps better suited as a second baseman and may not have the glove to handle short, Heyman suggests.
- One scout suggested that Adeiny Hechavarria might be the sort of defensive specialist that Detroit would want at short. A Marlins source, however, tells Heyman that the Fish have yet to be contacted about Hechavarria.
- Several executives around baseball believe that signing Drew would be the best solution to the Mets' shortstop problem, Heyman reports. A multiyear deal for Drew would give the Mets an answer at short for 2015, when the team could look to contend once Matt Harvey is healthy.
- The Mets would be interested in Drew on a one-year, $9MM contract or possibly a two-year, $20MM deal, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. There haven't been any signs that Scott Boras, Drew's agent, would settle for either price.
- Also from Martino, the view on current Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada from opposing scouts is that he's "a solid player, who appears spooked by the pressures of playing in the New York market, and hearing criticism from his own front office." One scout believes that Tejada “could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York. [He's] a classic change-of-scenery guy.”
- A source not connected to either the Mets or Diamondbacks tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link) that the rumor of Gregorius going to New York "has legs" and is a situation to watch.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was in attendance for North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon's start Friday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. The left-hander is widely considered the top talent in this summer's draft. In his outing, Rodon allowed two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, walking four but striking out 12. While Luhnow wouldn't discuss Rodon specifically, he commented that the trip "made me miss my scouting days." Here are two more AL West notes:
- A source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo that the Mariners feel "no urgency" to trade infielder Nick Franklin, who appears to be without a position following the Robinson Cano signing. There's healthy interest in Franklin after the 23-year-old flashed promise in his 2013 Major League debut, but a trade "doesn't seem like a given at this point," Cotillo writes.
- Joe Blanton could change minds in the Angels organization with another strong start, Bill Shaikin writes for the Los Angeles Times. The team previously "did not even pretend" that Blanton was in competition for a rotation job, and he struggled in his early spring outings. The Angels' limited pitching depth will likely be a factor in their ultimate decision on Blanton.
- Alternately, If the right-hander continues to show improvement and the Angels begin receiving calls on him, they would probably eat most of his salary in a trade, Shaikin says.
Scott Boras says he has "had dialogue" with the Mets regarding Stephen Drew, Newsday's Anthony Rieber reports. Boras also seemed to criticize the Mets, however, for their lack of interest in signing Drew. "The bigger issue is the credibility of the teams that are deficient," said Boras. "They have known weaknesses. ... When these players are available and clubs that have weaknesses are not pursuing them, a question of the integrity of what the goals of the organization are come to mind." The Mets still plan to go into the 2014 season with Ruben Tejada as their starting shortstop. Here are more notes from New York.
- One source close to Drew indicates he is unlikely to sign with the Mets, Dan Martin of the New York Post writes. Drew still wants a multiyear deal, and the Mets reportedly don't want to give him one.
- The Mets also haven't had significant talks with the Mariners about middle infielder Nick Franklin, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. The Mets had previously been connected to Franklin, who became expendable when the Mariners acquired Robinson Cano.
- The last day to release a player with a non-guaranteed Major League contract and pay just one-sixth of his salary was Wednesday, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes (on Twitter). In that context, it may be at least somewhat notable that Ike Davis is still with the Mets. Davis suffered through a disappointing season in 2013 and now has a calf injury. Davis has frequently been connected to other teams in trade rumors and is set to make just $3.5MM in 2014, however, so it seems unlikely the Mets would release him. They could, however, still do so and only pay one-fourth of his salary if they make the decision by March 26.
The Orioles have joined the Rays and Mets as teams discussing a deal with the Mariners for middle infielder Nick Franklin, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Baltimore would be interested in using Franklin at second base, where the team remains somewhat unsettled entering the season.
Franklin is competing (nominally, at least) with Brad Miller at short for Seattle after being displaced at second by Robinson Cano. The 23-year-old had a solid debut last year, posting a .225/.303/.389 line in 412 plate appearances after taking over at the keystone for Dustin Ackley. Franklin is considered a more marginal defender at shortstop than Miller, and has no apparent alternative spot in the Seattle infield, opening the possibility for a deal.
Ruben Tejada is penciled in as the Mets' Opening Day shortstop, yet rumors continue to persist that the Mets are looking to upgrade the position. The latest...
- The Mets are keeping an eye on the Diamondbacks' shortstop competition and a source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that the Mets "could jump in" to obtain Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings before Opening Day. When last we heard of the Mets/D'Backs shortstop talks, New York catching prospect Kevin Plawecki wasn't considered enough for either Gregorius or Owings, and Harper believes the Mets would have to move Plawecki and a minor league pitcher to make a deal work.
- Also from Harper, the Mets are still scouting Nick Franklin, and trying to decide if he can handle the shortstop job on a regular basis. Ninety of Franklin's 92 starts for the Mariners last season came as a second baseman, and while Franklin played more short than second in the minors, Seattle considered Brad Miller to be a better option than Franklin at shortstop.
- Stephen Drew, of course, remains available as a free agent, though GM Sandy Alderson again told reporters (including ESPN New York's Adam Rubin) that Drew's continued availability and the Braves' signing of Ervin Santana hasn't changed his club's stance. “I’m not interpreting it in terms of ‘our situation,’” Alderson said. “I don’t know that we have a situation here.” Alderson doesn't think Drew will hold out until June to escape the draft pick compensation hanging over his head, though the Mets GM believes Drew could wait to sign after Opening Day to ensure he wouldn't receive another qualifying offer next winter.
- Though Tejada hasn't gotten off to a good start in Grapefruit League action, Alderson said “it won’t be a judgment based on one game or two games or three games. We’ve got a lot of spring training left. In the meantime, we’ll continue to look at our other options.”
As expected, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker both won't be ready for Opening Day, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters (including MLB.com's Greg Johns) yesterday. Iwakuma is dealing with a strained tendon on his right middle finger and will be sidelined until mid-to-late April, while Walker has been shut down for a week with shoulder inflammation. With Seattle's rotation thinned, it will only increase speculation that the M's could increase their interest in Ervin Santana. Here's some more from the M's...
- While the Mariners could still use a pitcher and a right-handed bat, two sources tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that the team has "little or no loot left to spend," which GM Jack Zudriencik wouldn't confirm. A lack of payroll space could explain why the Mariners haven't extended offers to Santana or Kendrys Morales, and didn't make an offer to Nelson Cruz (before he signed with the Orioles) despite interest in all three players.
- Missing Iwakuma and Walker early in the season could particularly hurt the Mariners since they play the A's 10 times before May 7. "If Walker and Iwakuma miss the month of April, with our schedule that month it could get ugly," a Mariners source tells Heyman. Robinson Cano and at least one other M's player expressed the opinion that Santana would be a great fit, while Cano would also like to see the switch-hitting Morales brought back. "I'm not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat," Cano said. "We have many left-handed hitters. We need at least one more righty. You don't want to face a lefty pitcher with a lineup of seven left-handed hitters."
- The Mariners have sent scouts to watch young Rays pitchers, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The two clubs recently came close on a trade that would've sent Nick Franklin to Tampa, though Topkin believes that the M's can find a better fit elsewhere for the young infielder.
- Danny Hultzen will miss the entire 2014 season as he recovers from major left shoulder surgery, but the highly-regarded prospect tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that he's optimistic about his recovery and resuming his pro career.
Earlier today, it was reported that the Yankees will be monitoring the market for infielders in Spring Training but aren't looking to spend any significant cash in order to upgrade their infield. Here are some more items pertaining to New York's teams...
- Despite the Yankees' 85-77 record, GM Brian Cashman approached the winter as if his club had only achieved its Pythagorean record of 79-83. “Our team over-performed last year,” Cashman told reporters, including Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “It’s a credit to everybody involved in that process. But the record didn’t reflect the talent. And so when you take a sledgehammer to the roster like we did this winter and spend the money we did, it’s more reflective of recognizing. Of not being fooled.”
the Bombers’ best insurance policythe Bombers’ best insurance policy
- Stephen Drew is "the Bombers' best insurance policy" given the Yankees' thin infield situation, The Record's Bob Klapsich writes. While the Yankees are concerned about Drew's medicals and seemingly have no payroll space left, Klapisch notes that the club is already putting a lot of hope in an infield with major injury risks (i.e. Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Mark Teixeira). "Basically, we have to keep everyone from breaking down," a Yankees official tells Klapisch.
- According to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged that his team appears to be a logical landing spot for Drew, but the team has made its own cost-benefit evaluation and acted accordingly to this point. Alderson opined the Drew and agent Scott Boras "are reviewing the situation and perhaps looking at a strategy that prolongs this situation into the regular season or even into June."
- Mets lefty Jon Niese was shut down due to a dead arm and is heading back to New York for an MRI, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo (on Twitter). Manager Terry Collins told reporters, including the Daily News' Kristie Ackert, that the MRI is a precaution at this time.
- In a video blog at ESPN.com, Jim Bowden addresses rumors surrounding Troy Tulowitzki and the Yankees, noting that the Rockies star won't be traded to New York to replace Jeter no matter how much talk of the possibility surfaces. Bowden says that Rockies president Dan O'Dowd has told him repeatedly that Tulo won't be traded.
- The Mets will scout Nick Franklin throughout Spring Training and pay special attention to his defense, a team source tells John Harper of the Daily News (Twitter link). The club likes Franklin's pop but isn't sure about his glove at short, the source said. Reports earlier this week connected the Mets to Franklin.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
TODAY, 4:49pm: A Seattle-Tampa deal involving Franklin was close at one point, but the injury to Hellickson threw a wrench into talks, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.com (Twitter links). That does not necessarily mean that Hellickson was to be included in a deal, Rubin adds.
4:33pm: The Rays are also contemplating possible deal structures to reel in Franklin, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. A source tells Heyman that Tampa could be a better fit with Seattle than would the Mets, though the possible scenarios under consideration have not been brought to light. As Heyman notes, the two teams have already spent plenty of time looking at each others' players, having already discussed a David Price trade earlier in the offseason.
At first glance, it would seem likely that the Rays would be looking at an acquisition of Franklin primarily as a means of achieving value. The team does not have an immediate need, per se, up the middle, as it possesses options over shortstop Yunel Escobar and second baseman Ben Zobrist for 2015. But with a roster full of versatile players, the Rays certainly have the lineup flexibility to incorporate a player like Franklin. And, of course, the organization probably also has the patienceto keep the 22-year-old in the minors as depth and to maximize his future value. (Franklin has just 126 days of MLB service, making him a possible eventual Super Two, but also meaning that he still comes with five years of MLB control.)
In terms of possible trade targets from Seattle's perspective, the club could probably most stand to add to its rotation. But with the injury to Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa may not feel comfortable dealing from among the candidates for its major league rotation. Of course, since that time, the Rays added Nate Karns in a deal with the Nationals, adding to its depth in that area.
YESTERDAY: After learning Nick Franklin was likely to be traded and speculating on the Mets as apotential fit last week, ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin confirmed with a team source that the Mets do have some interest in Franklin. According to Rubin, the Mets and Mariners discussed Franklin at the Winter Meetings and are likely to do so again in the month of March.
The Mets aren't yet sold on whether or not they think Franklin can handle shortstop on a full-time basis, which they would need to believe in order to trade for him, writes Rubin. He adds that it also remains to be seen whether or not the Mets would pull the trigger on trading the type of pitching prospect Seattle would want in order to part with Franklin (Rubin uses Rafael Montero as an example).
Franklin, who turns 23 on Sunday, was a mainstay on Top 100 prospect rankings around the game from the time of his first-round selection in the 2009 draft up until his Major League debut last season. The switch-hitter cooled after a strong start to his Major League career and ultimately posted a .225/.303/.382 batting line with 12 homers and six steals in 412 plate appearances (he slashed .268/.337/.451 in 169 first-half PAs). However, with the team's signing of Robinson Cano and the presence of Brad Miller at shortstop, Franklin seemingly has no home in the Mariners' infield.
Much has been made of the Mets' weakness at shortstop this offseason (Ruben Tejada is their projected starter). The lack of a proven option at short has led to seemingly endless speculation regarding Stephen Drew, but a Franklin acquisition would likely end the connection between the two sides.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.