Report: Tigers to make a “serious run” at Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin

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Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin has been named in trade rumors throughout the off-season and into the spring. The Mets have been one team strongly linked to him. But with the Tigers hurting at the position after learning that Jose Iglesias will not be ready for the start of the regular season — at least — Ollie Connolly of OutsidePitchMLB is reporting that the Tigers are expected to make a “serious run” at acquiring Franklin.

The Tigers were expected to have significant interest in free agent Stephen Drew as well. Drew seems like a better fit for the Tigers than Franklin, as Drew only requires a commitment of one year and is overall more valuable, which is important for a team poised for a World Series run as the Tigers are. The Tigers, though, would have to relinquish their first-round draft pick, 23rd overall, in order to sign Drew, which GM Dave Dombrowski may feel is too high a price to pay for a stopgap solution.

Franklin slashed .225/.303/.382 in 412 plate appearances in his rookie season last year. Drew slashed .253/.333/.443 in 501 PA with the Red Sox. Depending on which defensive metrics used, Drew also grades out as a better defender.

Announcement: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day’s games (March 31). It’s $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.