Nick Franklin Isn’t Your Team’s Answer At Shortstop
Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin is a man without a position. The off-season signing of second baseman Robinson Cano has made Franklin expendable. Officially, he’s competing with Brad Miller for the opening day nod at short, a position which highlighted his defensive limitations. Unofficially, he’s on the trading block, generating interest from teams in need of middle infield help, like the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.
In an attempt to increase Franklin’s value, the 23-year-old switch hitter has started seven spring games at short. Despite the small sample size, his strengths have been on display, like working counts and slugging baseballs. Nick Franklin will hit. He’ll get his home runs (12 home runs in 369 at bats last year), walk at a good clip (42 walks) and strikeout a bunch (113 strikeouts in 103 games). Will there be enough defense at short though?
In 2012, Nick Franklin played shortstop and second base while scouting him in Chattanooga. He presented with adequate range, soft hands and a below average arm. With little zip behind Franklin’s throws — an issue when turning double plays — he projected as a bat first second baseman. Nick Franklin has gained more than 25-pounds since, dispelling concerns he wouldn’t hold up to the rigors of big league life. Did the added size and strength help his throwing arm? No.
For a spring look at Franklin, MLB.tv is the best one can hope for if not in Arizona. Television isn’t ideal for defensive looks, but the Dodgers television feed included multiple angles on replays to provide some insight. His three opportunities on defense included a slow ground ball to the 5/6 hole, a hard ground ball which deflected off of the pitcher and a bounding ball up the middle.
Franklin read the slow bouncer well, but Dee Gordon’s speed left no hope for his off-balanced throw. The deflected ball ricocheted off the pitcher and into Franklin’s glove. His side arm throw tailed away from the first baseman and was caught off his toe. On Tim Federowicz‘ bounding ball up the middle, Franklin let the ball get behind him before snagging the bouncer and unloading a throw to first. The out was made, but Franklin failed the test. While the play was a highlight on mlb.com, it’s a routine play for a solid average shortstop. Federowicz should have been out by more than half a step.
Nick Franklin continues to present as a below average defender at shortstop. Adequate range plays down due to below average arm strength and accuracy. It’s a mix which screams second baseman. The Mariners were right to move Franklin last season and anoint Brad Miller the shortstop of the present and future.
Nick Franklin On The Trade Block
In recent days, the Mets have surfaced as a possible destination for Franklin. And while a Rafael Montero for Nick Franklin swap is even for both sides, New York has Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores. Adding Franklin means the franchise is willing to trust in his ability to stick at shortstop — at least for awhile.
Franklin would be a fit at second base with the Blue Jays, but their system has thinned out at the upper levels due to recent trades. Catcher A.J. Jimenez and a young pitching prospect would be enough, but would the Mariners in win now mode be amenable to that?
The aging Yankees are another option, but what do they have to offer the Mariners? I’m just not sure. New York’s system is down after a rash of prospect injuries and under performance. Would Mason Williams for Nick Franklin be enough? He’d be an interesting fit considering Abraham Almonte and Michael Saunders aren’t considered future building blocks.
11 Mar 2014 / Chris Blessing /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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