Nick Franklin continues to wallow around in Tacoma, cooled after his blazing start but still performing admirably. He still has plenty of trade value around the league despite his success, as we suspect the Rays want Franklin for Zobrist. Outside of Taijuan Walker, the Mariners probably aren't going to be able to add a big piece without using Franklin as bait, and we've talked about his expendability to this organization for a while, especially if they plan to replace him with another shortstop option in Ben Zobrist.
Today's latest rumor is exceptionally interesting, as it links the A's, of all teams, to Nick Franklin, coming from Susan Slusser at SFGate.com. He's rumored to be a "top target" as the deadline approached. After dealing away Addison Russell for a duo of pitchers from the Cubs, the A's now lack internal depth up the middle long-term, and Eric Sogard and his .486 OPS is an obvious candidate to be upgraded immediately. Addison Russell wasn't big league ready, but Nick Franklin is. Their interest in a player like Franklin should be obvious, but asking for it from a division rival who's also in the hunt for a playoff spot is ambitious, to say the least.
If you eliminate the in-division red flag, there's some matches, but they're too light. The Mariners need another starting pitcher, and the A's could offer up either Tommy Milone, sent to AAA with a 3.55 ERA (despite questionable peripherals, including a plummeting K rate and 4.51 xFIP) or the recently acquired Jason Hammel while promoting Milone back up. Hammel has been miserable in his first two starts since moving to the AL, but still holds some value. Not nearly enough to justify Nick Franklin in return.
That's where the offense comes in, as the A's might have an extra bat to offer. Stephen Vogt, another late-career Oakland dynamo, is tearing the cover off the ball while Josh Reddick and Kyle Blanks sit on the DL. Vogt, 29, has a mere 126 PA of MLB success (all in this year) and didn't become a dangerous hitter until he arrived from the Rays organization in 2013. He appears, like many others, to be yet another success story from the A's organizational coaching staff, who has produced unexpected breakouts time and time again. Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson, and now Vogt have broken out after doing very little with their careers, and the pitching career resurrections speak for themselves. The A's aren't lucky. They're very, very good at identifying underutilized or untapped talent, and then they turn those players into studs.
Trading Nick Franklin to the A's comes down to two key questions. One, do you believe in Nick Franklin? If you don't, then know if the A's want him, you better believe other teams do as well. Even this rumor about Franklin and the A's can only stand to increase his value around the league, as the A's are incredibly well-respected. Whether or not you believe in him as a member of the future Mariners is not entirely a separate issue. He's an asset, and he'll provide value to the organization one way or another.
Second, do you believe in the A's coaching staff? I do, and the idea of handing them their future all-star second basemen for the next six years is terrifying. Nick Franklin on the Mariners is not the same as Nick Franklin on the A's. Oakland has fixed enough players over recent years to gain their level of respect. Seattle's repeated failure to develop their own promising talent results in a lack of both confidence and respect.
Trading a player as talented as Franklin to an organization who has done everything the Mariners have failed to do over the past six years is a recipe for disaster. I don't believe Oakland has enough firepower to make a deal happen and I don't believe the Mariners should be helping division rivals, especially since they very well might have to play them in a Wild Card game. Just because the M's can't get Nick Franklin to hit big league pitching doesn't mean another organization won't make him the player he's supposed to be. The Mariners can't trade scared, they can't let the past haunt them, but they have to be smart. Trading Franklin to Oakland for anything short of monster package that they don't have isn't that.