On Saturday a baseball source confirmed that Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will be out until the All-Star break at the earliest. This opens the door for the Tigers to make a move for Nick Franklin, a Seattle Mariner without a position, but with a desire to fight and compete and play baseball for a Major League team.
Iglesias was slated to be the starting shortstop for a team expected to run away with the AL Central. Most experts expect the Tigers to win the division and cruise into the playoffs.
However, news that Iglesias could be out for at the very least the first half of the season– or potentially even the entire season with shin issues– they cannot afford to have one of the most important positions on the field sitting vacant.
That’s where our own Nick Franklin can come in. He has been competing with Brad Miller for starting shortstop this spring. Miller has done nothing but solidify his spot on the Opening Day roster, with a 1.373 OPS, 3 homeruns, 7 RBI, and 4 walks. It would be pointless having Franklin play a backup utility role when he could be getting valuable everyday reps at Triple-A Tacoma.
But Franklin has made it clear that he is mentally and physically ready to play Major League baseball. Since before Spring Training trade rumors have been swarming around him like people begging for Robinson Cano‘s autograph.
The Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees, have all been rumored as interested trade partners for Franklin’s services. The Rays like young talent, and could use middle infielders. The Mets don’t know if their young shortstop is ready for the Bigs. The Yankees are relying on the most eclectic cast of old-foggies, outcasts, and oft-injured players to fill out their middle infield.
This injury to Iglesias, however, provides another trade partner for the Mariners.
What Could the Mariners Get from the Tigers?
Before I give a straight answer, the Tigers do have other options besides the M’s Nick Franklin.
They could go out and invest a nice chunk of change and a draft pick in free agent Stephen Drew. With leverage though, he may fight for extra money. Like Kendrys Morales– both being Boras clients– they are willing to wait until after the draft in June to sign.
They could also simply look in-house. James Schmehl, Detroit Tigers report, wrote that:
“Tigers manager Brad Ausmus spoke at length Saturday about the quality of in-house candidates who could potentially replace Iglesias, should he be forced to open the season on the disabled list. Hernan Perez, Eugenio Suarez and Danny Worth were all identified as viable replacements.”
If they wanted more options, or at least an option with a smidge of Major League experience, Franklin could be their guy.
The big question is what a trade like this would return to the Mariners. I would love to see the M’s go after Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly, two back-end of the rotation guys. However, they may not be on the trading block, or would require a return bigger than just Franklin.
The M’s could also ask for bullpen help, with the Tigers in possession of guys like Joba Chamberlin and Bruce Rondon. They could also try to sell Daniel Fields, a young centerfielder, to the Mariners too, though that would really fill any needs the M’s have now.
Who really knows what the Tigers would be willing to give up– but if they are looking to finally get over the hump and win a World Series, they need a reliable shortstop. Could Nick Franklin be that guy? Maybe. We still don’t know if he can play short defensively on a day-to-day basis, but he has the bat, the drive, and the personality to be successful in the Majors.
Rumors will continue to swirl around Franklin, till Opening Day and beyond if he isn’t traded. He has too much of a ceiling not to be given a shot on a Major League squad. But hopefully Jack Z doesn’t try to just trade him for the sake of trading him.
Keep your eyes here at Sodo Mojo for any updates on the continuing rumor wheel.
Only 14 days until Mariners Opening Day!