Sep 10, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee (35) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the third inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What is Nick Franklin Worth?

The Seattle Mariners came out last week and announced they would entertain trade proposals for one of their extra middle infielders. While they will listen to offers for both Nick Franklin and Brad Miller, Franklin appears the more likely candidate to be sent packing. Because of stalled negotiations with Stephen Drew, some are suggesting the Mets put together an offer to make Franklin their starting shortstop in 2014.

Sandy Alderson must consider two things before making a move for Nick Franklin. First, what is Franklin worth as the Mets’ starting shortstop? Second, who is he worth trading for?

Sep 27, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin (20) warms up between innings against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets played 2013 with a shortstop platoon of primarily Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla. Tejada’s WAR in 57 games was -0.9; adjusted for 162 games, it would have been -2.6. Quintanilla’s WAR in 95 games was -0.8; adjusted for 162 games, it would have been -1.4. When their 162-game adjusted WARs are averaged, it works out to -2, meaning if a Tejada-Quintanilla amalgam had played a full season with the 2013 Mets, they would have been worth two fewer wins than a replacement-level shortstop. Franklin’s WAR for 102 games in 2013 was 2.3 (albeit primarily at second base). Had Franklin played 162 games in 2013, his WAR would have been around 3.7.

The Mets went 74-88 in 2013 with the Tejada-Quintanilla platoon. Changing nothing else from the 2013 season, replacing Tejada-Quintanilla with Franklin would have given the Mets 5.7 extra wins; rounding up, New York would have finished 80-82 in 2013 with Nick Franklin as their full-time shortstop.

Another approach to consider Nick Franklin’s value was the number of runs he produced compared to his Met counterparts. Because Franklin and Quintanilla played a similar number of games in 2013, they will be compared exclusively in this simulation. While Franklin’s batting average (.225) was not much better than Quintanilla’s (.222), his offensive output was significantly greater. Franklin’s OPS (.686) was nearly 100 points higher than Quintanilla’s (.589). Franklin also scored more runs (38-28) and drove in more runs (45-21) than Quintanilla.

Accounting for runs scored and RBIs, Franklin produced 34 more runs than did Quintanilla last season. The Mets scored 619 runs in 2013 against 684 runs allowed. Adding Franklin’s extra 34 runs to New York’s total gives the team 653 runs. The Mets’ Pythagorean win-loss record in this scenario would be 78-84 in 2013 instead of 74-88.

Both approaches suggest that Nick Franklin would have been worth 4-to-6 extra wins last season. And that was when he was 22 years old, one year younger than Tejada and significantly younger than Quintanilla. Franklin turns 23 in a week, and if he develops the way he is expected to over the next few years, the offense he would generate would counteract any of his shortcomings with the glove.

Based on the numbers and the potential upside, Alderson should definitely consider trading for Nick Franklin. Now the question becomes who Sandy feels is worth giving up for him.

The Mariners are said to be after young starting pitching in exchange for Franklin. If there’s one thing the Mets are in no short supply of, it’s starting pitching. Assuming Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are off the table, that leaves Jacob deGrom, Jenrry Mejia, and Dillon Gee as viable trade bait.

In the Mets’ triad of starting prospects, deGrom seems to be the odd man out. While a solid prospect, he has not generated the same excitement as Syndergaard and Montero. If New York does not move him before the start of 2014, the team may move him during the season.

Mejia has shown flashes of greatness, but his health issues may make Seattle hesitate. Perhaps if he is packaged with another young prospect, perhaps Jeurys Familia, the Mariners may be willing to pull the trigger on a trade.

Dillon Gee is not considered young by baseball standards – he turns 28 in April – but he is a proven mid-level starter and would boost any team’s rotation. Mets fans may be unhappy if the team ships away a sure thing, but if both Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are going to join the rotation, someone will have to lose his job. Assuming the team’s to-be-determiend fifth starter is demoted after Montero’s ascention, Gee is the most likely candidate over Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese, and Bartolo “Not Harvey” Colon to take a backseat for Syndergaard. The Mariners’ desire for young pitching may be a sign the team is willing to play the waiting game, but if the team feels compelled to win now, they may accept a Franklin-for-Gee deal.

All things considered, Sandy Alderson should strongly consider trading either Jacob deGrom or Dillon Gee to Seattle for Nick Franklin. Franklin may not be as flashy as Stephen Drew, but for the Mariners’ asking price, he is the Mets’ more affordable option, as well as the one with the most upside.

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Tags: New York Mets Nick Franklin Omar Quintanilla Ruben Tejada

  • JJ Allen Keller

    I don’t want to nitpick, but runs created isn’t RBI+runs.

    • Will DeBoer

      Right you are, thanks for the heads up.

  • Bill

    Good Discussion . . I have been advocating a trade of starting pitching for a shortstop all off-season long. My original list of ‘potentially available’ shortstops to obtain as young ‘prospect’ types that would be used a longer term building block was either Gregorius or Owings from Arizona, Miller or Franklin from Seattle, or possibly one of the the young middle infielders from Texas, although the Rangers guys (Odor or Sardinas) are not MLB ready yet, but both may have higher ceilings than any of the other four. I would keep a monitor on the Arizona situation – they may be in the same boat as Seattle and be ready to trade one of the two this spring as well.

    As far as Franklin (or Miller) goes, I would do either Gee or Montero for Franklin in a heartbeat. Heck, throw in Tejada so Seattle has a backup to Miller. They may need to do a lower level non-top 20 prospect as well, but go for it. Gregorius or Owings might cost a bit more, but I’d use either one of those guys as the centerpiece of that deal as well.

    The one thing that Seattle could use that might get it done is a catcher – Plawecki? I’d have to think very hard before I swung that one, but I would throw them Centeno and a pitcher for a MLB ready player that has been a high prospect for quite a while at a prime position.

    One thing I’m pretty sure of – trading for any one of those 4 guys is a whole lot better deal than either Drew or any of the shortstops that are as of now free agents after next year.

    • harmony55

      The Mariners probably are satsified with their organizational depth at catcher with Mike Zunino, John Buck, John Hicks and Tyler Marlette.

  • Bill

    As long as I’m at it, let’s get creative and see if we can work Duda in there somehow – directly to Seattle or get another team involved and do a three-way. Not sure who needs a 1st baseman or dh now, seemingly a very small market, if any.

  • Donald Arner

    I say go for it.Even if he doesn’t pan out,which you’ll never know unless you give him a full time shot,the pitcher he’s traded for would probably be an extra piece of the Mets that will probably never get a shot with the big club.Once Harvey comes back,and Snydergaard comes up,where would he pitch?This team is going to be loaded with starting pitchers,let’s trade one of them and get another bat(which they desperately need) in to the club.He’d be MUCH cheaper than Drew,which I’m totally against them going for,and would rather see almost anybody play shortstop than Tejada.I say give them a choice of Gee or deGrom(maybe both),and add Centeno,and do it.They aren’t going anywhere this year,but next year,add another bat,and it’ll be time to cheer for this team again,FINALLY

  • harmony55

    For what it’s worth, Oliver projects five-year WAR of 19.2 for Brad Miller, 17.5 for Nick Franklin, 14.2 for Juan Lagares, 9.6 for Rafael Montero, 9.4 for Jon Niese, 7.8 for Wilmer Flores, 3.9 for Dillon Gee, 3.8 for Jacob DeGrom and 0.4 for Vic Black.

    Each team has its proprietary method of player valuation, but the Oliver projections shed light on each player’s value. I would think Seattle would want to trade for comparable value.

    The Mariners did not announce last week “they would entertain trade proposals for one of their extra middle infielders.” Columnist Adam Rubin of ESPN New York merely speculated that Brad Miller or Nick Franklin could be available. An announcement of that nature would be out of character for the Mariners, whose trades tend to come out of nowhere with little advance publicity.

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