Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported last week that the Mariners were likely to trade either Nick Franklin or Brad Miller by Opening Day and speculated that the Mets could make a play for one of them. Well, he was told by a “Mets insider” today that the team does indeed see a possible match with Franklin.
According to Rubin, the Mets had talks with the Mariners as far back as December’s Winter Meetings. With Seattle reportedly shopping Franklin and on the lookout for young pitching, the expectation is that negotiations will pick up again over the next month. Rubin mentioned a possible Rafael Montero-for-Franklin swap, but that’s merely speculation and there’s no indication that the two sides are actually discussing such a trade. Still, the Mets have plenty of young pitching on the way, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them use some of that depth in order to acquire a bat.
There are doubts about whether Franklin has the defensive ability to be a full-time shortstop in the majors, so a deal is no sure thing. As of now, the Mets are planning on going with Ruben Tejada as their starting shortstop, though signing free agent Stephen Drew remains a possibility.
Franklin, who turns 23 in March, hit .225/.303/.382 with 12 home runs, 45 RBI, and six stolen bases over 102 games in his first taste of the majors last year. He made 90 starts at second base and two at shortstop.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.