BY Adam Lewis 05:39PM 03/17/2014

Mariners Links: Franklin still on trading block

The Mariners must decide if shortstop Nick Franklin should begin the season as a big-league utility infielder, a Triple-A starter or on another team.

Even though his batting average fell about .40 points during the final two months of his rookie season, Nick Franklin posted a 2.3 WAR in 2013. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Another week, another Nick Franklin trade rumor.

The latest came Sunday when Ollie Connelly of Detroit’s Outside Sports Network reported the Tigers were “going to make a serious run at acquiring Franklin” after starting shortstop Jose Iglesias was diagnosed Sunday with stress fractures in both shins. Iglesias will begin the season on the disabled list and the club doesn’t know when he might return.

The Mariners are trying to decide what to do with Franklin, who is locked in a spring training competition with incumbent shortstop and friend Brad Miller. Last season as a rookie, Franklin hit .225 with 12 home runs, 45 RBIs and posted a 2.3 Wins Above Replacement while playing second base, but was displaced this offseason when Seattle signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240-million contract.

The perception entering spring training was that Miller would ultimately keep his starting job while Franklin would be sent to Triple-A Tacoma or traded before Opening Day. The latter sentiment is strengthened by reports since camp began that the Orioles, Rays and Mets see Franklin as a potential solution to their voids at shortstop.

Last week, manager Lloyd McClendon dismissed the thought that Franklin would immediately be sent to Tacoma if he didn’t beat out Miller but didn’t anoint him a backup infielder, either. Meanwhile, the trade speculation persists.

“I’m not sure, I’m not sure,” McClendon told 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer. “We will see how it plays out.” 

In 10 spring training games, Franklin is eight of 29 (.276) with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs, though he’s been slowed by a flu virus circulating the clubhouse. Miller, meanwhile, is 11 of 30 (.367) with two triples, three home runs, seven RBIs and an OPS of 1.241 in 11 games.

Perhaps most intriguing is Miller and Franklin’s friendship, which dates back to when they played together on all-star teams while growing up in Orlando, FL. They have neighboring lockers in the Mariners spring training clubhouse and the one at Safeco Field. They’re both natural shortstops, even though Franklin’s rookie season was spent playing second base. It appears like both added muscle during their first major league offseason. Miller is 24. Franklin is 23.

  • Pitcher Scott Baker, a non-roster invitee, threw a minor league game against the Brewers in Peoria Sunday, as he continues his bid to make the starting rotation. For the second start in a row, he overcame control problems in the first inning to post a quality line, going 4.2 innings and giving up two runs on five hits.
  • Desperate to watch the Mariners? They host the Padres at the Peoria Sports Complex in Cactus League play Tuesday. Root Sports will carry the game live, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.

YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    I wouldn’t trade Franklin for anything but a starting OF. He’s proven he can play at the MLB level and with four teams shopping for shortstops, the Mariners are in a position of strength in any trade talks. Don’t give him away for some pitcher who may eventually reach Seattle.

    Then again, I wouldn’t trade Franklin, period.

    • Edgar Martinez

      They should have been trying him in the outfield this spring with our lack of good options out there. It’s not looking good with Hart already having various issues and Franklin is basically going to waste.

      • RadioGuy

        Agreed. I’ve said before I’d just as soon they sent Cano to the OF so they’d have SOMEONE out there with power while saving his body a little from infield wear-and-tear, but I’d settle for Franklin getting some OF experience while the games don’t count. For someone who’s drawing such interest from other teams, Nick seems to get little respect from the one he’s on. A trade might be in HIS own best interest. Most players would prefer to play for someone who wants them.

        Same old Mariners. Committing 240 million dollars to one player won’t hide the fact that this is one screwed-up organization that lacks purpose or direction beyond finishing the fiscal year in the black.

  • Jeff Shope

    I like Franklin which means he won’t be a Mariner much longer they are sure to trade him for nothing and we’ll watch him become an all star

  • jafabian

    I was really looking forward to a Miller/Franklin infield asfter seeing them last season. But then I was looking forward to Dustin Ackley manning 2B for years to come. I’m very disappointed that he club is leaving Nick hanging right now, that’s not fair to him. And I really don’t care that “this is life in the big leagues.” Sure it is but I’d like to think the club I root for could set example rather than following it.

    Be that as it may, I doubt the M’s could get what they really need: a clean up hitter to bat behind Cano. Kendrys Morales would be ideal but if he isn’t in camp by now it’s not happening. However Franklin might be valuable enough to bring in a leadoff hitter. That would at least give Cano someone to bring in runs.

  • notaboomer

    dump bloomquist and keep franklin as backup infielder. simple and smart.