The Mariners trade rumors abound, but I did not expect to see the Oakland Athletics express genuine interest in infielder Nick Franklin at this juncture in the season. This news comes from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Granted, when he has been called up for short stints this season, he has not been effective offensively.
Franklin, still only 23, would be a huge piece for the Athletics to land, especially because second baseman Eric Sogard just returned from injury and shortstop Jed Lowrie is set to be a free agent this off-season.
There seem to be two major obstacles in a potential deal being put together before this season’s trade deadline– though that is not to say some deal couldn’t be made during the off-season.
From a logistic standpoint, the Athletics don’t exactly have a cupboard full of prospects to trade to the Mariners for Franklin, who would garner a high price with his talent ceiling and years under team control.
So if the A’s were to swing a deal for Franklin, it would bleed what little is left in their farm.
Moreover, the A’s aren’t exactly a team that can buy talent on the free agent market, so continuing to trade away young talent could mean a World Series this year and then bottom-dwelling for the rest of the decade (even though Billy Beane always finds a way).
The second roadblock is equally substantial: the Mariners are in the playoff hunt, competing against the likes of the Angels and– you guessed it– the Athletics for playing time in October.
It’s hard to imagine the Mariners giving the A’s talent that could help them now in beating up on the American League en route to the playoffs.
The only way a deal would go would be if the Mariners lose every single game from now until the deadline (unlikely) or if the A’s were willing to part ways with some Major League talent that could improve the Mariners roster at the very same time (perhaps someone like Craig Gentry coupled with minor prospects).
This development is an interesting one, though I don’t expect it to grow into anything more than a thought-provoking proposition.
Neither of these teams wants to significantly improve the other in the present, because such a decision would actively jeopardize that team’s chance to make the playoffs.
Don’t expect a deal to get done before the deadline, or even this season for that matter. But be prepared for a potential off-season deal, unless the Athletics find a way to adequately sweeten the deal to entice the Mariners into making them an even better ‘best team in baseball’.