Nick Franklin might be donning a New York Mets jersey soon. The Mets and Franklin’s current team, the Seattle Mariners, could provide each other with key pieces for the upcoming season. Additionally, Franklin’s youth and offensive upgrade benefits the Mets this season.
After signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract, the Mariners have found themselves with too many men up the middle. At the beginning of the offseason, there was a tossup of whether Franklin or current Mariners shortstop Brad Miller would be traded. Now, the days until Opening Day are numbered.
The Mets should try to snag Franklin if they can.
Franklin Is a Young, Natural Shortstop
In 2009, Franklin was drafted by the Mariners in the first round of the first-year player draft. While in the minors, Franklin played mostly at the shortstop position.
Since starting in the majors, Franklin hasn't played much at shortstop.
And that may leave doubt about whether he could field the position in the majors, as New York Daily News reporter Andy Martino noted:
Talking to evaluators on Nick Franklin, there's more of a feeling that he's a 2B than a SS.— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) February 26, 2014
But at 23 years old, Franklin has more than enough time to get settled in the shortstop position. In fact, you can say that Franklin was a better hitter when he was at his more natural position. In the minors, Franklin had a .324 batting average, .440 OBP and .912 OPS while a shortstop. As a second baseman in the majors, he has hit for a .225 average, .303 OBP and .685 OPS.
Sometimes your defense does affect the way you play. That just might be the case with Franklin.
Better Offensive Numbers than Mets Shortstops of Late
Since being called up last May, Franklin’s numbers were decent. Yes, a .225 average is low, but he had 20 doubles, 12 homers and 45 runs batted in.
Let’s compare those numbers to a few Mets shortstops’ statistics last season.
For one, Franklin had better numbers than Ruben Tejada. We all know the Tejada story. He turned up to last year’s spring training out of shape and hardly did anything all year long. In 2013, Tejada hit for a .202 average, .259 OBP and .519 OPS.
Omar Quintanilla had 313 at-bats as shortstop for the Mets last year. The bench player had a .224 average, .308 OBP and .592 OPS.
Franklin is clearly offensively better than Quintanilla and Tejada. He would be an improvement over either of them. If Tejada doesn't pan out this spring training, the Mets are going to have to look into someone besides the 32-year-old Quintanilla.
The Mariners Need Pitching, the Mets Need a Shortstop: Done and Done
Signing Stephen Drew means giving up money, which general manager Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons clearly don’t like to do.
Trading for Franklin allows the Mets to trade from an area of relative depth in order to acquire a position they need.
The Seattle Mariners are looking for young pitching. The Mets have a lot of young pitching. In return for Franklin, the Mets can give up one of their many young pitchers, depending on what type of pitcher Seattle is looking for. Mets trade bait includes pitchers such as Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia or minor leaguers Logan Verrett and Jeff Walters.
The Mets might still be considering Drew after an offseason filled with discussion between the two sides. But there is every possibility that Drew won’t end up in Flushing.
Franklin, although not as experienced as Drew, still makes sense. Drew is a 30-year-old who may be the Mets’ short-term fix to the shortstop situation. But there’s no way that he could be the long-term solution.
Would the Mets want to hang on to Drew for the next five years? There aren't many 35-year-old shortstops out there as it is. But that is what Drew is holding onto. He wants a multiyear deal. But the Mets are a team that doesn't want to commit to an older player for too long.
Franklin is a better long-term fix. He has got time on his side, plus acquiring him probably won’t take much.