The Nationals have released veteran infielder Maikel Franco, reinstated second baseman Luis Garcia from the injured list, optioned righty Cory Abbott and selected the contract of top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli, per a team announcement. Cavalli’s looming promotion had been announced by the team earlier in the week. Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com first noted that Garcia was in the clubhouse and that Franco appeared to be packing up and saying his goodbyes, indicating a move was on the horizon.
Franco, who turns 30 today, has spent the season as Washington’s primary third baseman. The Nats signed the former Phillies top prospect to a minor league deal over the winter, and he broke camp with the team. Franco has gotten 99 starts, with the vast majority of that time coming at his customary position at the hot corner. While he’s been a durable lineup fixture, the right-handed hitter simply hasn’t produced much at the plate. Franco posted a .229/.255/.342 showing across 388 plate appearances, only connecting on nine home runs with a meager 3.1% walk rate.
It’s a second straight well below-average season for Franco, who managed a .210/.253/.355 line with the Orioles last season. Fellow journeyman Ildemaro Vargas, who was selected onto the big league roster at the start of this month, has a far more productive .317/.354/.450 showing in 65 plate appearances. The switch-hitting Vargas has taken hold of the third base job as a result, while Garcia is now in line to pair with top prospect CJ Abrams as the primary middle infield duo. That pushed veteran second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the bench and squeezed Franco off the roster.
A nine-year MLB veteran, Franco finds himself on release waivers. Assuming he goes unclaimed, he’ll hit free agency and be able to explore other opportunities elsewhere. It seems likely he’ll be limited to minor league offers, although he’d technically be eligible for another team’s postseason roster if he signs before the end of this month.