The Rays have designated utilityman Nick Franklin for assignment, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Jumbo Diaz, Daniel Robertson, Mallex Smith and Peter Bourjos have all made the Rays’ Opening Day roster.
The 26-year-old Franklin batted a solid .270/.328/.443 in 191 plate appearances with the Rays in 2016, but he posted subpar defensive numbers and was out of options. He also rarely plays shortstop and therefore doesn’t make an ideal utility infielder, and Rays manager Kevin Cash pointed to Robertson’s ability to back up the shortstop position better than Franklin as a factor in the decision, via a tweet from Topkin. With Smith and Bourjos to back up Colby Rasmus, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. in the outfield (where Franklin also plays), there was no space for Franklin on the Rays’ roster.
Still, it wouldn’t be a shock if Franklin were claimed on waivers. His versatility, experience, relative youth and modestly useful bat could make him a potential fit for teams seeking to fill out their rosters as Opening Day approaches.
Franklin arrived in Tampa via the Rays’ 2014 three-team trade of David Price — the Rays got Franklin from the Mariners and Drew Smyly and top prospect Willy Adames from the Tigers, with veteran outfielder Austin Jackson heading from Detroit to Seattle. Franklin, though, spent a significant portion of his tenure in the Rays organization in the minors. He has posted a .219/.288/.371 line in parts of four seasons in the big leagues.