Second baseman Nick Franklin lost his job when the Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a monster contract and then predictably failed to beat out Brad Miller for the shortstop gig during spring training, at which point the Mariners sent him back to Triple-A.
Franklin took the demotion in stride, hitting .395 with four homers and a 1.214 OPS in 11 games for Tacoma, and now he’s headed back to the big leagues.
No official announcement has been made yet, but Franklin more or less tweeted out the news via emojis (what a world we live in, people). He’s expected to replace Logan Morrison, who injured his hamstring and is likely to be put on the disabled list.
Franklin has never played a position other than second base or shortstop in the majors or the minors, but he worked out some as an outfielder during spring training prepping for a situation just like this one.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.