Given the lack of obtainable second baseman this season (Emilio Bonifacio, anyone?), it should come as no surprise that Billy Beane and his trusty cohorts within the Athletics organization are looking at alternative methods to upgrade the second base position. As mentioned by Susan Slusser last week, Oakland has identified Nick Franklin of the Seattle Mariners organization as a player of interest.
Condemned to Triple-A Tacoma after Seattle’s high-profile offseason signing of Robinson Cano displaced him from the active roster, the 23-year old Franklin has spent nearly the entirety of 2014 splitting his time between shortstop and second base with the Rainiers. After briefly procuring the starting second base job from former top prospect Dustin Ackley last season, Franklin’s has taken his demotion in stride hitting a nifty .297/.394/.466 in the 314 at bats in the hitter-friendly Pacific League.
Somewhat off of Seattle’s radar despite still holding a prospect ranking, Franklin has little to no chance of usurping the mighty Cano any time soon and like Ackley – is expected to forge his way in the Great Northwest at an alternate position. With experience at shortstop and current stop gate Brad Miller holding a tenuous grip at the big league level – it’s not inconceivable that Franklin’s Seattle future may be opposite of the man who replaced him.
Either way, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik has an intriguing trade piece in the former number one draft pick and a player that certainly makes sense for the Oakland Athletics. The platoon combination of Eric Sogard and Nick Punto fail to stimulate much inspiration these days in even the most devoted of fans, and sadly even Franklin’s lifetime pedestrian splits of .214/.291/.358 in 464 big league plate appearances would stand as a marked improvement.
With the Mariners hanging tough in the Wild Card race and Seattle hungering for another winner to follow suit of the Seahawks and Sounders – a return package would have to be at least partially beneficial to the remainder of the 2014 season. Perhaps still high on the reclamation of soft-throwing lefty Chris Young, the Athletics could finally acquiesce to Tommy Milone’s request and send him packing to the Mariners rotation with a prospect.
Two birds. One Stone. But, what a valuable rock it could be.