Nick Franklin showed enough promise as a rookie second baseman for the Mariners last season that he seemed set as the team’s long-term answer there, but then they signed Robinson Cano for $240 million.
That knocked Franklin out of the second base picture and forced him into a competition with Brad Miller to start at shortstop, which is a position where he’s stretched defensively. Miller won that battle and now, instead of keeping Franklin around in a part-time role the Mariners demoted him back to Triple-A.
Franklin played 102 games in the majors last year and prior to making his MLB debut in late May he smacked around Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .324 batting average and .912 OPS. He also hit well this spring with a .777 OPS in 17 games. In other words, if not for the Cano signing Franklin would still be in the majors. Instead now he’s back in the Pacific Coast League and will play shortstop there while trade rumors no doubt continue to swirl.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.