Mariners recalling hot-hitting Nick Franklin from Triple-A

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Nick Franklin’s last call-up to the Mariners was very brief, but he’s been crushing Triple-A pitching all season after losing his starting second base job to Robinson Cano and now he’s headed back to Seattle again.

Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that the Mariners are expected to recall Franklin from Tacoma on Tuesday, promoting him in the wake of Corey Hart’s hamstring injury Sunday.

Franklin leads the Pacific Coast League with a .376 batting average and also has seven homers plus as many walks (23) as strikeouts (23) in 30 games for a nifty 1.114 OPS. He hit .225 with 12 homers and a .686 OPS in 102 games for the Mariners last season as a 22-year-old rookie and would have been an everyday player again this season if not for Cano’s arrival on a $240 million contract.

He’ll play mostly outfield for the Mariners now, although it’s possible he could see some action at shortstop with Brad Miller slumping horribly. Miller and Franklin competed for the shortstop gig during spring training and Miller won the battle with his hot hitting and superior defense, only to hit .154 when the games mattered.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.