The Robinson Cano signing will change things in Seattle. It will change the number of people attending games, first and foremost. It pairs Felix Hernandez with another superstar. It could give the Mariners leverage as they go after other big-name free agents. If everything goes as planned, it could change the Mariners' fortunes.
But another change that may very well occur is the future of second baseman Nick Franklin. When Cano inked his life away for the next decade, Franklin became the most expendable player on the roster, and the most tradeable too.
Franklin was labeled as Seattle's second baseman of the future as a prospect and quickly lived up to the hype, hitting .299 with four home runs and 13 RBI through his first 30 big league games. He cooled down eventually and finished with a .225 average but still managed a .303 on-base percentage and clubbed 12 homers in 102 games while holding his own at second, overall a very respectable year for a 22-year-old rookie.
He and fellow rookie Brad Miller developed chemistry up the middle and were a possible double-play duo for years to come. But with the additions of Cano and veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist, both Miller's and Franklin's futures are now in question. More notably in question is Franklin's near future.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted that the Mariners could potentially make a run at Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price. This deal would surely need to involve prospects, as Morosi notes in the tweet, and the Mariners certainly have a talented young crop, of which Franklin is a part.
Seattle Times Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish tweeted that any deal for Price would need to include prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.
According to a source, any trade for David Price would have to include Taijuan Walker— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) December 6, 2013
This makes sense, as Walker is one of the best young arms around, and the Rays had tremendous success last time they traded a big-name pitcher for a stud prospect.
Last winter, the Rays sent James Shields to Kansas City for Royals top prospect and eventual Rookie of the Year Wil Myers. Having a young duo of Myers, who turns 23 on December 10, and Walker (age 21) would give the Rays an unreal pair of budding superstars for at least the next decade.
Where does Franklin factor into all this, you ask?
Well, being that Price is a top left-handed arm in baseball and a former Cy Young Award winner, the Rays could get understandably greedy. Walker and Franklin may be the eventual Price tag (see what I did there?), and I don't doubt Jack Zduriencik's willingness to pull the trigger.
Even if the Price trade falls through, the M's have been linked to Matt Kemp trade rumors by Morosi. The Dodgers would seek prospects in return, the top candidates once again being Franklin and Walker.
But, do the Mariners need to get rid of Franklin?
While he isn't the prototypical designated hitter, Franklin certainly doesn't need to play in the field. The Mariners don't have a true DH on the roster, and while bringing back Kendrys Morales is a real possibility, Franklin could turn his focus to offense and spell Cano at second.
Franklin could change positions. This is rather undesirable, but he's still young and has played a lot of shortstop in the minor leagues. Franklin and Cano up the middle for the next ten years doesn't sound bad at all, and the offseason would give him a chance to work on the position switch.
What should the Mariners do with Nick Franklin?
Certainly, Franklin can't sit the bench, though. Lloyd McClendon would surely find a way to use him with Cano, but the trend appears to be favoring a trade that includes Franklin in exchange for a big-name, instant-impact player.