Maikel Franco
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Phillies option Maikel Franco

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The Phillies have optioned third baseman Maikel Franco to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the team announced on Sunday. According to comments given by manager Gabe Kapler, the decision was precipitated by the “abundance of outfielders” on the active roster, as well as Scott Kingery‘s move to third base and the general feeling that Franco doesn’t “profile well as a bench player.”

Franco, 26, isn’t exactly having a banner year for the club. Through Saturday’s 3-2 win over the White Sox, he’s batting just .231/.296/.405 with 15 home runs, a .702 OPS, and -0.1 fWAR through 368 plate appearances, nearing some of the career-worst numbers he produced in 2017. Still, it’s a somewhat surprising move given Franco’s relative stability at the hot corner over the last several years. Whether or not the Phillies will find some use for the infielder before the end of the season remains unclear, though given their current position in the Wild Card race and Kapler’s sentiments about Franco’s abilities as a utility player, it seems unlikely.

In a corresponding move, infielder Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day injured list (hip flexor tightness) and will assume Franco’s spot on the roster. The 29-year-old utility man slashed an impressive .294/.399/.596 during his time with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season, but hasn’t shown much life at the plate in the majors. He currently holds a combined .234/.330/.455 batting line with four home runs, two stolen bases, and a .784 OPS across 88 PA for the 2019 Indians and Phillies.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.