TODAY: The Orioles are one of the teams interested in Franco, Heyman tweets.
MARCH 5: There hasn’t been much buzz centering on third baseman Maikel Franco since the Royals non-tendered him at the beginning of December, but his market is now “heating up,” according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. It’s unclear which teams are interested in Franco.
MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected in October that Franco would land anywhere from $4.5MM to $8MM in 2021, his final season of arbitration control, though the Royals were unwilling to go to those lengths to keep him. But the 28-year-old did have a productive 2020 in his lone season as a member of the Royals, with whom he batted .278/.321/.457 (106 wRC+) with eight home runs in 243 plate appearances. Franco also appeared in all 60 of Kansas City’s games, earned nice marks at third (zero DRS, 1.3 UZR) and struck out in only 15.6 percent of his trips to the plate – which aligns with his lifetime K rate of 15.3.
Franco now looks like one of the most appealing players remaining on an ever-shrinking free-agent market, and it’s easier to dream on him when considering his past promise. He ranked as high as 17th in Baseball America’s top 100 list of prospects as a Phillies farmhand back in 2014, the year he made his major league debut. Franco didn’t play much that season, but he opened eyes over 80 games in 2015, hitting .280/.343/.497 (129 wRC+) with 14 HRs across 335 PA. He wasn’t able to keep that up from 2016-19 as a Phillie, however, as he batted an uninspiring .247/.299/.427 (86 wRC+) in 2,146 PA. The Phillies gave up on Franco when they non-tendered him going into 2020.