Jul 8, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin (20) hits a RBI double against the Boston Red Sox during the 7th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Want A Shortstop? Call The Mariners

With newly signed Robinson Cano entrenched at second base, the Mariners have a glut of middle infielders.  According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, one of those players – most likely Nick Franklin – will be dealt prior to opening day.

Franklin, a switch-hitter who turns 23 on March 2nd, is a natural shortstop who spent the majority of his rookie season in Seattle playing second base.

In 412 plate appearances spanning 102 games for the Mariners in 2013, Franklin had a triple slash of .225/.303/.382 to go along with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, and 45 runs batted in.

Most reports indicate that the Mariners will be looking to acquire a young starting pitcher as part of a deal for Franklin.

While Franklin would serve as an upgrade at the plate for the Mets, most observers feel that he’s a below average defender at shortstop – someone who would be better served switching to second base full time.  According to Baseball Prospectus:

No matter where he plays in the field Franklin is a bat-first player. He is limited at shortstop, offering only modest range and an arm that earns below-average to fringe-average grades. He has decent hands and solid instincts but they are not enough to make him a palatable defender on the left side of the infield long term.

While questioning Franklin’s ability to stick at shortstop, Baseball Prospectus offered this take on his offensive game:

Franklin stands out for his ability to make consistent hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. He has a line-drive swing that will max out with 15-18 home runs a year, but should also generate 30-plus doubles at his peak. Franklin’s swing is simple and compact from the left side, allowing him to work counts and hit for a high average. From the right side, Franklin’s swing has a tendency to get long, adding more miss to his game and resulting in less punch. Franklin projects as an above average to plus hitter with good power and the ability to steal 10-15 bases a year thanks to average speed and decent baserunning instincts.

…the question for the Mets (and other teams) is whether they feel Franklin’s defensive shortcomings are outweighed by his offensive potential.

The Mets are still engaged in discussions with Scott Boras regarding free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, but Franklin is an intriguing alternative option.

If Franklin hits his offensive projections, he’ll be extremely valuable if he can simply play average defense at shortstop.  It remains to be seen if he can, but it may be a worthy gamble to take.


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Tags: Brad Miller New York Mets Nick Franklin

  • Eric Bloom

    sounds like a lighter hitting wilmer flores to me. pass.

    • roger roger


    • Ken Meoni

      I guess we are all on the same page on this one. :)

    • paqza

      Look at the guy’s MiLB numbers. Then look at his highlight videos. He would solve two major problems for us – 2B long-term and leadoff. It would also allow us to trade Murph for talent, or go with Franklin at short and Murph at 2B. It’s undeniable that Franklin projects to hit better than Tejada, and would be waaaay cheaper while having a higher offensive ceiling than Drew. We’ve got pitchers. We don’t have enough Major League caliber hitters. This guy’s 23, has put up fantastic numbers in the Minors, and showed glimpses of holding his own as a 22 year-old rookie.

    • paqza

      Totally off. He walks more than Wilmer Flores and is actually projected to play well above-average 2B. We’re not sure if Wilmer can cut it at 2B or if he’ll walk enough to put up the OBP we’d like. Nick Franklin would immediately be an upgrade over Murphy at defense and on offense (while also being cheaper) and also represent a clear upgrade over EYJ leading off. If Sandy can make it happen, I would feel very, very, very good.

    • Eric Bloom

      Except none of that is relevant. He may walk more than Wilmer, but Wilmer has more potential in terms of run producer. And Franklin is a SS by preference, not a 2b. And a below average defender according to all the scouting reports. He may be a good leadoff hitter, but he didn’t do anything in the majors to suggest that he’d be more productive on offense than Wilmer. And there minor league stats don’t compare – Wilmer’s are better all around. He would not be an upgrade at defense over Murphy, who’s made himself into an avg defender at worst. Take away his July and he only made 8 errors all season. He may be an upgrade over Tejada (and that’s a big maybe), but I’d rather give our own guy a shot and put Wilmer there.

    • paqza

      Aight, so let’s sign Franklin and trade Murphy to the Dodgers for Van Slyke and some low minors pitching prospect. We upgrade our outfield and 2B while saving money moving forward. I see Wilmer starting the year in the Minors and then getting packaged in a blockbuster trade since the Mets need to clear room on the 40-man this upcoming off-season.

    • Eric Bloom

      Or we can sign Murphy to a team-friendly 3 year extension while we wait for Dilson Herrera to come up, and cultivate Flores, while keeping our outfield, which will likely be one of the best defensive outfields in all of baseball completely in tact. If we were talking about Yasiel Puig, maybe, but Van Slyke?

    • paqza

      Look at Van Slyke’s numbers and get back to me. Would you rather have Franklin and Van Slyke in your lineup or Murphy and Eric Young Junior?

    • Eric Bloom

      actually I’d rather have Murphy and Lagares, with EYJ on the bench. But since you asked…

      Van Slyke – .219.303.421.724 for his (admittedly) brief career so far
      Franklin – .225.303.382.686 (1st year in Seattle)

      Murphy (162 game avg) – .290.333.424.757 (and don’t forget 38 doubles, and 23 steals)
      Lagares – .242.281.352.633 (with 15 outfield assists in only 121 games)
      EYJ – (162 avg) .258.325.338.663 plus the league leader in steals last year and a gold glove finalist. Can also play 2b.

      I’m really not sure where the upgrade is.

      And just for fun, let’s look at minor league stats:

      Van Slyke (2800 ABs) – 295.371.487.858 (pretty good)
      Franklin (1500 ABs) – .287.360.459.819 (not bad)

      Murphy (just over 1000 ABs) – .295.356.452.808 (fairly similar)
      Lagares (2400 ABs) – .282.322.405.727
      EYJ – (over 2500 ABs) -297.388.423.811

      Again – not really a significant upgrade anywhere and I like our guys. Let’s look at Wilmer’s minor league stats and compare as well.

      (2755 ABs) – 290.331.430.762

      These are all basically the same player.

    • paqza

      It’s entertaining that you ignore Van Slyke’s and Nick Franklin’s recent MiLB stats while also ignoring Van Slyke’s 2013 campaign.

      Van Slyke’s 2013 had him put up nearly the same wRC+ as Marlon Byrd in his 2013 season, and Marlon Byrd was the best hitter on the Mets not named David Wright. Moreover, Van Slyke did it in his first taste of regular playing time in the Majors. Van Slyke also put up a .225 ISO in the Major Leagues and a .279 ISO in the Minors in 2013. Fangraphs notes that it takes about 160 PA for ISO to stabilize, so we can be pretty certain that Van Slyke has a solid shot at hitting at or above a .200 ISO moving forward. EYJ will never, ever approach those power numbers. Eric Young is projected to hit for around an 85 wRC+ next year whereas Van Slyke is projected to hit for around a 110 wRC+. A 25 point swing is massive, and Van Slyke is easily as good a defender as EYJ in left. He gives up a bit in speed but takes better routes and has a much better arm.

      With respect to Franklin, the truth is that right now, his offensive floor is about the same as Murphy’s offensive ceiling, his defense is better, he’s a switch hitter, and his range at 2B is better than Murphy. Moving forward he projects to hit at least as well as Murphy, in all likelihood with higher OBP and more power. In 2013, Murphy was better. In 2014, it will probably be a wash offensively with Franklin playing better defense. In 2015 and beyond, Franklin’s the player you would rather have. Moreover, Franklin is 22 right now; Murphy is 28. Franklin’s getting better whereas Murphy’s plateaued. Franklin’s making $500,000 while Murphy’s making $3 million.

      It’s illogical to want two guys that are worse and cost more over two guys who are quantifiably better offensively and at least as good defensively, while gaining cost control, power, and OBP.

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