The Padres have interest in Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (video link). A deal may not be easy to swing, though, as Rosenthal notes that the Phillies would have to acquire a third baseman or a shortstop from elsewhere in order to move Franco.
Franco, now 25, garnered hype as a prospect and made good on that as a rookie in 2015, when he slashed .280/.343/.497 with 14 home runs in 335 plate appearances. He hasn’t been anywhere near that effective since, however, as he has offered below-average production in each season dating back to 2016. In 229 trips to the plate this year, Franco has hit .255/.297/.425 – nearly matching his lifetime line of .248/.300/.426 – with nine homers.
With a .230/.300/.498 line and 16 HRs in 230 PAs this season, Padres rookie third baseman Christian Villanueva has been better than Franco in the aggregate. But the 27-year-old Villanueva has gone backward in each month of the season, having posted a wRC+ of 199 in April, a 74 mark in May and a paltry 53 this month. Given Villanueva’s struggles and their lack of obvious third base solutions in general, it’s understandable that the Padres are seeking help there, even though they’re 35-44 and well out of playoff contention. Franco could be a multiyear solution for San Diego if it acquires him and he turns his career around, as he’s arbitration eligible through the 2021 campaign.
Despite the subpar production of Franco and other left side infielders Scott Kingery and the injured J.P. Crawford, the Phillies boast a 41-33 record and own a 1 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers for the NL’s second wild-card spot. They’re also in contention in the NL East, trailing the division-leading Braves by just 1 1/2 games. As such, it seems the Phillies are on track to buy as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. If they do bolster the left side of their infield before then, it could come in the form of Orioles shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado or one of the other high-end third basemen likely to be available – the Royals’ Mike Moustakas, the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson or the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (who has drawn Philly’s interest).
Should the Phillies land one of those players or other infield help, it could open the door for Franco to head to San Diego. The Phillies may package him with other talent in order to acquire relief help from the Padres, Rosenthal notes. The Padres’ bullpen has been a significant bright spot this year, which has led to interest in relievers such as Brad Hand, Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen. Hand, the closer and the best of the Padres’ relievers, would garner the largest return. The Padres reportedly want a “young everyday player” back for him, and while Franco fits that description, there’s little doubt Philly would have to surrender additional talent for San Diego to give up Hand.