It appears the day is nearing when the Mets and Mariners will once again discuss displaced infielder, Nick Franklin. Seattle has been monitoring the Mets spring, even doubling the number of scouts in attendance at yesterday's game. While it remains a mystery exactly what Seattle will eventually ask for in return for Franklin, its becoming clear that the Mets are going to have to part with decent talent. Whether the front office likes it or not, Franklin is becoming more and more important to the Mets as the spring progresses.
Questions linger as to whether or not Franklin can stick at shortstop long-term. Scouts question both his range and his arm. However, its becoming ever apparent that Ruben Tejada may not be up to the task either. After a dismal defensive effort last season, he already has two errors this spring and doesn't look as though a return to form is imminent. Its entirely possible that Franklin's questionable defense may be an upgrade to Tejada's in 2014, but that's not where the Mets stand to improve if they're able to acquire his services.
Nick Franklin managed 12 home runs and 45 runs batted in over the course of his rookie campaign, despite a terrible slump to end the year. Of the three FanGraphs projections that have Franklin playing 100 games or more in 2014, the average projection has him with a .250/14/60 stat line. If you prefer a sabermetric approach, those same projections average him to be a 2.5 WAR player next season. Whatever approach you prefer, these are numbers Ruben Tejada can only dream about.
Swapping Franklin for Tejada may also provide the team with a leadoff option. If that were the case, the urge to play Eric Young Jr. over the much more defensively sound (and quite possibly offensive equal) Juan Lagares will be stifled. What does that mean? The Mets would not only upgrade their offense with Nick Franklin, they can also field their optimum defensive arrangement as well.
Last but not least is the long-term outlook. Franklin does not project as though he is the shortstop of the future, but he isn't eligible for arbitration until 2017 and remains under team control through the 2019 season. AKA.. he's cheap. If he proves valuable enough to keep around, he could replace the increasingly expensive Daniel Murphy if the team chooses to go after a more adept shortstop at some point in the future.
Nick Franklin gives the Mets options. He can play either position up the middle, instantly bolsters the team's bench by shifting Tejada there, and he can do so without negatively impacting the team's payroll. If the Mets can make all of that happen without grossly overpaying in a trade, its a move they have to make in the coming weeks. Franklin may not be the answer next year and beyond, but he provides so many answers in 2014.