In a dinner time post to ESPN New Yorks Mets Blog, Adam Rubin discussed the Mariners as a potential trade partner if the Mets would still like to upgrade the shortstop position prior to opening day. Rubin specifically focuses in on Nick Franklin, who finished the 2013 season as the Mariners' every day second baseman. With the winter acquisition of Robinson Cano, Franklin has become expendable and is likely to be traded prior to opening day.
Franklin was a first round pick of the Mariners in 2009. Despite playing about two thirds of his minor league games at shortstop, which Franklin describes as his natural position, his defense is described as being "limited..offering only modest range and an arm that earns below-average to fringe-average grades" according to Baseball Prospectus. His redeeming quality is undoubtedly his bat, despite hitting only .225 last season with an alarming 31% strike out percentage. BP believes Franklin projects to hit for a high average, which he has done at every level of the minors, with the potential to hit 15-18 home runs.
If your trying to come up with a comparison, I would say Nick Franklin is Daniel Murphy with a little more pop and slightly better defense. That begs the question, can the Mets afford to have two somewhat questionable defenders up the middle behind their young rotation? Franklin would probably provide the caliber offensive upgrade that the long rumored Stephen Drew provides, however his defense doesn't compare.
Finally, its important to discuss cost. Nick Franklin will be just 23 years old when the 2014 season starts. The biggest cost he represents is the talent the Mets will have to send to Seattle to acquire him. That caliber of talent is still unknown. MetsBlog's Matt Cerrone hypothesizes that the Mariners could be looking for someone like Vic Black. I tend to disagree, because I can't envision the Mets parting with someone with Daniel Murphy's potential for a high upside reliever. My guess would be it will take one of the Mets more formidable starting pitching prospects. Rafael Montero comes to mind...
Ultimately, I would usually only give up Montero for someone who fills a need in the long term. However in this case, the Mets would upgrade their offense and theoretically do so without paying $10-$12 million to Stephen Drew. Furthermore, I'm not sure Montero has a place on the Mets in the long run. I get the impression that its not if he is eventually traded, but when. Franklin isn't eligible for arbitration until the 2017 season, meaning the Mets could allocate money elsewhere to fill the holes that remain. That mean's this deal could be a win for years to come.
The Mets have spent years cultivating their farm system in order to have the chips to upgrade the franchise. This is one of those times. Making a move for someone of Franklin's caliber upgrades the team's lineup, bolsters their bench and addresses one of the front office's primary concerns when the offseason began. I don't know if the Mets will ultimately land Franklin, but they should certainly try.