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.