Nick Franklin Rumors
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.
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 ESPNNewYork.com'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, MLB.com, 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.
The Rangers didn't really expect to re-sign Nelson Cruz this winter, yet did their due diligence by keeping in touch with Cruz's agent Adam Katz, GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's Lyle Spencer. "We've touched base every week or so," Daniels said. "Nellie's highly regarded here. We have a good relationship with Adam. We made our moves and kind of expected [Cruz] to sign elsewhere. But we'll see where it goes. It's a unique situation for him as a free agent. When we made our decision to sign [Shin-Soo] Choo, it was with the understanding that [Cruz's] best opportunity would be to sign elsewhere. I don't know what's going on with other teams and Nellie."
Here's some more from around the AL West...
- The Rangers' view on re-signing Cruz is "unchanged," FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets, in that the team would only bring him back at a lower price and if he can't find any other suitors.
- Nick Franklin was almost traded to the Diamondbacks last offseason and had been the subject of trade rumors this winter as well since the Mariners' acquisition of Robinson Cano. Despite all of the speculation, Franklin tells Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that he's just focusing on the upcoming season. “I mean, as far as I know, I’ve been traded 20 times, and I’m still here," Franklin said. “It doesn’t really bother me at all. All I can do is control what I can and go out and play the game.”
- A 10-year, $300MM contract for Mike Trout has often been cited as a possible extension for the young superstar, though MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines that Trout's representatives might take a lesser deal given that Trout still has four years until free agency and his stock could drop in the interim. Also, a shorter deal would set Trout up for another massive contract later in his career. Gonzalez suggests a seven-year, $200MM extension could work. In my opinion, while the $200MM mark is a major threshold for any player, I'd guess the Angels would happily lock Trout up at that price.
- Athletics manager Bob Melvin told reporters, including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, that there is very little chance top prospect Addison Russell begins the season on the Major League roster. The A's are already set at shortstop wth Jed Lowrie (with Nick Punto and Eric Sogard as backup options), and as Slusser notes, there is little reason to start Russell's service time clock at this point in his young career.
Hiroki Kuroda gave the Yankees "top priority" this offseason after he decided to pitch another year, the hurler tells Sponichi (via an article by Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues). Kuroda says the Yankees approached him about an extension as early as August. As Axisa notes, the episode is another indication that the Yankees have abandoned their "no extensions" policy. Here's more Yankees notes, with a heavy emphasis on Alex Rodriguez, who will be suspended for the entire 2014 season:
- The A-Rod suspension gives the Yanks a much better chance of getting under the $189MM luxury tax threshold, but they'll also need to find someone to play third base, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News writes. While the Yankees have Kelly Johnson in the fold, he's played just 16 games at third in his Major League career.
- Other potential fits include Mark Reynolds and Michael Young. Reynolds, you may remember, played 36 games in pinstripes last season. There's also Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin of the Mariners, whom another source says the Yankees expressed interest in at the Winter Meetings. A trade may not be in the cards, however, McCarron says.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick examines the fallout from the suspension, noting that cases such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro indicate A-Rod has little chance of entering the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Commissioner Bud Selig can now argue that he's left the game "in a better place."
- While Rodriguez plans to take his case to federal court, Ian O'Connor of ESPN New York opines that such a bid is also unlikely to succeed. "Federal judges historically have little interest in hearing cases already settled in collectively bargained arbitration," O'Connor writes.
- Daniel Lazaroff, a professor at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says A-Rod winning an injunction that would allow him to play in 2014 "is about as likely as the 'steroid-era' players being elected to the Hall of Fame." Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times has more from Lazaroff in his column on the suspension.
- Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun expects a long court battle, which might be A-Rod's "only chance to preserve any semblance of a legacy."
The Mariners have a "strong" trade market for Nick Franklin, as several teams have shown interest in the young second baseman, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi report (Twitter link). Franklin went from being Seattle's second baseman of the future to an obvious trade candidate following the team's signing of Robinson Cano, and given his pedigree, it's no surprise that teams are looking to acquire a promising, controllable talent.
Franklin, 22, was taken by the Mariners with the 27th overall pick of the 2009 draft and he entered the season ranked as the 47th-best prospect in the game by MLB.com and as the 79th-best by Baseball America. The 2013 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Franklin as the fifth-best prospect in Seattle's system, saying "he profiles as a solid regular who could play in a few All-Star Games." Franklin hit .287/.360/.459 with 46 homers and 63 steals (out of 81 chances) over 1756 minor league PA, and then hit .225/.303/.382 with 12 homers in 412 PA with the Mariners in 2013, his first taste of Major League action.
Since Franklin has a lot of minor league experience at shortstop, the M's could also make him Cano's double play partner and shop incumbent shortstop Brad Miller instead. Miller, however, actually outhit Franklin in both the majors and the minors and (while he isn't a great defender) is better suited to shortstop than Franklin, so Miller could have more value to the Mariners going forward.
With Cano, Omar Infante and even secondary options like Kelly Johnson, Mark Ellis and Brian Roberts off the board, teams looking for second base help have precious little left on the free agent market. The Blue Jays stand out as a would-be contender with a hole at second base, while teams like the Braves and Mets could have a need for a promising young second baseman if they move their current keystone position stalwarts (Dan Uggla and Daniel Murphy, respectively) who have been rumored to be on the trade market themselves.
Second baseman/shortstop Nick Franklin has been called up and will join the Mariners today, tweets Ryan Divish of The News Tribune. Franklin will have to be added to the team's 40-man roster; he'll take the place of a minor leaguer, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The news comes on the heels of Carlos Triunfel's season debut, which occurred Friday. Triunfel's one start came at second base, though both Mariners prospects can play both middle infield positions. Former first-rounder Dustin Ackley, meanwhile, has limped to a .205/.266/.250 line and will join Jesus Montero at Triple-A, according to Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710.
Franklin, 22, was drafted 27th overall by the Mariners out of high school in 2009. He was hitting .324/.440/.472 in 177 Triple-A plate appearances, a vast improvement from his production at that level last year. Franklin's rankings on top 100 prospect lists prior to the season: 69th by ESPN's Keith Law, 79th by Baseball America, and 43rd by MLB.com. BA ranked him fifth among Mariners prospects prior to the season, noting, "He profiles as a solid regular who could play in a few All-Star Games."
If he stays up all year, Franklin will accumulate 126 days of big league service, making Super Two arbitration eligibility possible after the 2015 season. It's unknown whether that amount of service will put Franklin within the top 22% of the two-to-three class at that point. Super Two players go to arbitration four times instead of the usual three.
10:50pm: Taijuan Walker would have been the fourth player in the trade package to the D'Backs, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Walker, a 20-year-old right-hander, was ranked as the 20th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season, though he struggled pitching at the Double-A level last year.
7:40pm: The Mariners offered a four-player package to the D'Backs, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Arizona would have received Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and one of Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen or James Paxton.
6:06 pm: Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton invoked his limited no-trade clause to reject an agreed-upon deal between the D'Backs and Mariners that would have sent Upton to Seattle, reports Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The M's were prepared to give up "a package of young talent" in the trade, a return that Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has heard was "substantial" (Twitter link).
Though several teams have been linked to Upton over the last two seasons, the Mariners seem to be the first to propose a deal that has gotten the D'Backs to agree to move the 25-year-old outfielder. As Rosenthal/Morosi note, the trade rejection could be gamesmanship by either Upton or the D'Backs --- Upton could be trying to control where he ends up, or the Snakes are sending the message that if Upton wants to leave Arizona, his only option is Seattle. The Mariners, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Cubs are the four teams on Upton's current no-trade list, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
Rival teams say the Mariners have made many players untouchable in trades, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, a Seattle official tells Rosenthal the team is “wide open” on possible deals.
The list of untouchable players includes Felix Hernandez, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, and prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Nick Franklin, Rosenthal reports. Some executives question whether Ackley and Seager should be off-limits at this stage in their careers.
Mariners such as Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon League, Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan could draw interest this summer. GM Jack Zduriencik will be expected to consider trade offers for some veterans given Seattle's 36-51 record.