Alternatives for Nick Franklin

By now everyone knows that Nick Franklin isn't the Mariners second baseman of the future. Robinson Cano destroyed that premise. I believe, however, that Nick Franklin is a possible All-Star somewhere. He has gap power and ZiPS projects him for 3 WAR in 2014. Many people have suggested packaging Franklin with one of Paxton/Walker/Pike to acquire an outfielder, but Jack Z doesn't seem interested in trading him. So what are some other Mariners options for Nick Franklin?


Why it makes sense: The other middle infield spot is a seemingly obvious option for Franklin moving forward. He played short in a few games last season and posted slightly below average numbers for the position, which is similar to his performance at 2nd base. Franklin also provides above-average power for the position which could increase his value and WAR.

Why it doesn't work: Brad Miller. Crazy Legs currently has Shortstop on lockdown. Miller is projected for the same WAR as Franklin and played better than him last season. He posted better offense ratings in nearly every category and played similar to better defense consistently. Franklin projects better as a back-up to Miller at Short.

Verdict: While this should be the easiest place to move Franklin, Brad Miller blocks his way. Barring an injury or trade Franklin won't be starting here.


Why it makes sense: Outfield is the most obvious position of need for the Mariners. The current options are Guti, Saunders, Ackley, Morrison/Hart, Chavez, and Almonte. None of the current options provide more than 1 or 2 WAR(and 2 is stretching it). Insert Franklin, who John Sickels of SB Nation's MiLB site called "an excellent overall athlete." Sickels also described Franklin as a player with an average arm and above average speed. I don't see any harm in giving him a Spring Training tryout in the OF.

Why it doesn't work: His arm is just average and he's never played there before. Learning the position could distract him from learning how to hit MLB pitching(I don't buy this theory because everyone says he's a hard-worker, but it is an issue posed). The Mariners could also find it easier to swap him with a comparable outfield prospect than move him here.

Verdict: While the outfield is the Mariner's greatest need, Franklin doesn't project much better than Ackley did there. He could even be worse due to his lack of experience there. If the M's want help out there they're better off trading for it.

First Base

Why it makes sense: Justin Smoak has been a disappointment at first and only projects as a 1 WAR player in 2014. Although Franklin would likely have less value at first than second, he would probably be better than Smoak in terms of WAR. First base is also an easier position to learn than any of the outfield spots and based on everything I've heard about Franklin's work ethic, I would assume that he can learn it quickly.

Why it doesn't work: The Mariners would have to trade Smoak for basically nothing because that's what they're going to get from him. Jack Z has stated publicly that Smoak still has a place on the team which doesn't leave any room for Franklin to play first. Also, even if Jack swallows his pride and trades Smoak, the team would have to play Hart or Morrison in the outfield. That's a scary possibility for Raul-esque defense again.

Verdict: While first base my favorite place to move Nick Franklin, the logjam there doesn't allow him to.

The best solution for the Mariners is to make Franklin into a "super-utility" player. Zduriencik mentioned the possibility earlier in the year and it seems to be the best option due to his weakness where the Mariners are weak and strengths where the team is strong.

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