When it comes to the New York Mets upgrading at shortstop, most of the talk this offseason has revolved around whether or not the team will sign free agent Stephen Drew. With Spring Training getting underway and the talk of signing Drew all but dead, new rumors have emerged linking the Mets to the Seattle Mariners in a trade that would involved young shortstop Nick Franklin heading to New York.
Franklin is an intriguing player and could be an upgrade at shortstop for the Mets, but he’s not a player worth pursuing at this point.
Franklin played over 100 games for the Mariners last year, primarily at second base. But with Seattle signing Robinson Cano, Franklin is moving to shortstop, his natural position, where he could be left out of an everyday job if he loses a spring competition to Brad Miller, opening the door for him to be traded.
Despite hitting just .225 last year, Franklin has a chance to become an above-average offensive shortstop, and his 12 home runs in 102 games last year shows that he has some power, which New York would surely welcome to its lineup. However, his defensive skills at shortstop are fringy as his range is seen as average at best, and his arm is just barely capable of handling shortstop. His offense makes up it, but a pitching-oriented team like the Mets can’t afford a fringy defender at shortstop.
On top of that, there’s the price for Franklin, which appears to be a young pitcher in or near the big leagues. The name Jacob deGrom has been tossed out as a possibility while the Mariners may prefer Vic Black, although neither is a pitcher the Mets should be excited to part with. Black could be in line for a major role in the team’s bullpen this year, and ditto with deGrom — even though he’s likely to return to triple-A at the start of 2014. The Mets would be wise to keep both guys.
At this point, the Mets are all but committed to giving Ruben Tejada a chance to be the everyday shortstop and a chance to redeem himself for an atrocious 2013 season. There’s no reason to change that. If Tejada has a bad spring or suffers a serious injury, the Mets could seriously consider trading for Franklin because they don’t have anyone else. But right now, giving up a young pitcher for Franklin isn’t worth it and doesn’t make a lot of sense for them.