Rays’ utility infielder/outfielder Nick Franklin has been designated for assignment, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The hard-hitting Franklin was expected to make the roster after a monster performance in spring training, but Topkin notes that Rays’ manager Kevin Cash preferred the more defensively-inclined Daniel Robertson as infield depth.
Franklin, 26, finished a third season in Tampa Bay with career-high numbers in 2016, slashing .270/.328/.443 with six stolen bases and a .771 OPS in 191 PA. He split his time among first base, second base, shortstop and the outfield corners, but his limited range made him marginally useful to the team when he wasn’t at the plate.
Spring training seemed to confirm his role as a bat-first option off the bench. Franklin slashed an impressive .362/.434/.532 in 22 Grapefruit League appearances while competing against outfield options Mallex Smith and Peter Bourjos and infielder Daniel Robertson for a backup spot on the roster. Although his defensive skills have never been described as anything above average, Franklin’s versatility in the infield and outfield and his resurgence at the plate last year should make him an appealing option for teams looking to shore up their offense in 2017.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.
Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.
Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.
It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.