Michael Scannell - Next Mets: Future of 2B - Nick Franklin?

As it stands right now, the Mets have 4 of their 8 future lineup positions filled.  The Next Mets will feature David Wright, Ike Davis, Travis d'Arnaud, and Ruben Tejada around the infield.  They still need to add a 2B to round out the group as well as field an entire outfield.  Daniel Murphy is passable at 2B for now, however I don't see him as a long-term solution on a championship-caliber team.  His defense is average at best for a middle infielder and his offensive production does not really make up for it.  I like Murphy, but as a super-sub or as trade bait.

The first place we can look for that next core piece is the group of current major league 2B.  The current top performers at the position are Robinson Cano, Aaron Hill, and Dustin Pedroia.  Cano and Hill are free agents after this season but I don't see the Mets investing top dollar in 2B when they have other positional needs.  Ditto for Pedroia who won't be available until after the 2015 season when the Mets will hopefully have the position solved.  The only way to acquire him at a reasonable cost would be through a trade and I don't see the Red Sox moving him.  The rest of the current crop of major leaguers are not a significant enough upgrade from Murphy to justify making a move.

This means that the next 2B for the Mets will likely play the 2013 season in the minor leagues, either for NYM or for another organization.  I don't think anyone within the organization currently profiles as the solution either.  Reese Havens has the talent but it seems as though his trouble with injuries has derailed his career and he might never make it up to the majors.  I've always liked his potential and even liked him more than Ike Davis when both were drafted in 2008.  I'll root for him to break through, I just don't see it happening.  Wilmer Flores likely has the bat for the position, however reports don't indicate that he'll be able to handle defensive duties; his future in the major leagues is at 3B and likely with another organization (see: Wright, David).  Gavin Cecchini might be the answer, but he won't be up at CitiField before 2016 and a lot can happen between now and then.  After these three, no one else currently in the Mets' system will be a starting 2B at the major league level.

Therefore, the Mets will have to look at other teams' middle infield prospects in order to fill the position.  The top 2B prospects in baseball are Kolten Wong of St. Louis, Delino DeShields of Houston, and Eddie Rosario of Minnesota.  All three players should become solid major league regulars, but I don't think any of their teams will look to move them.  Wong is the heir apparent in St. Louis, Houston views DeShields as an important part of their rebuilding process, and the small market Twins almost never move their prospects.  The best chance for the Mets is to take a look at the SS prospects around MLB with an eye on converting one to 2B.

Of the top SS prospects in baseball, Nick Franklin is the most likely to be available.  A potential high-OBP and 20/20 offensive player, there are already questions as to whether he can stay at SS long-term.  If he is more of a 2B, his future in Seattle is murky, even if he is one of their two best positional prospects.  Assuming Franklin can't stick at SS, Brad Miller is looking more and more like he might be the future SS for the Mariners and erstwhile super prospect Dustin Ackley is still the likely 2B going forward.  Since Franklin's greatest value is as a middle infielder, he might be most useful to Seattle as a trade piece to upgrade another position.

He is obviously not untouchable as Seattle was willing to include him in the rejected trade for Justin Upton.  The question becomes what would the Mariners want in return for their former 1st round pick.  Even though teams seem to always be looking for pitching, the Mariners are as well positioned there as any team in baseball, boasting Felix Hernandez and 3 of the top pitching prospects in the game.  They also have one of the game's best catching prospects in Mike Zunino, a powerful young DH in Jesus Montero, and, as mentioned above, their middle infield is likely sewn up with Miller and Ackley.  The Mariners need help at the corner IF and OF positions, as well as CF.

The Mets could build a potential deal around Wilmer Flores.  The Mariners need help at 3B and Flores could solve that for them.  He might need a month or two of experience at Las Vegas, but a solid start there could greatly increase his trade value.  Flores and a lesser prospect like Matt den Dekker might be enough to pry Franklin away.

Franklin should be ready for the majors some time around the ASB this summer.  His addition at 2B would complete the Next Mets infield and he could even slot in at the top of the lineup.  Five of the eight everyday spots would be filled (and cheaply), leaving the team with only a few holes to fill and a lot of flexibility to fill them with.


Michi L. said...

Wow i really like the idea! And a package around Flores might work..
Man a offseason in which the mets aquire their future cather plus 2b man would be awesome!
By the way i really like Hill and i think the mets should think about him!
Again great idea

Michael S. said...

Thanks Michi! I like Hill as well, I just think he'll price himself out of the Mets' range. With Franklin the Mets could have a very well-rounded player under control for a long time.

Mack Ade said...

I like the way you think.

The Mets have to find somebody out there that will trade a AA/AAA OF, 2B, or P prospect for Flores.

There's a win/win somewhere in baseball for this bat, that will only look better in Vegas

Michael S. said...

Thanks Mack!

Unknown said...

I really like this idea and it is really thinking outside the box! Not sure if Franklin is the answer or if I would include someone in addition to Flores but I really think this is an avenue the way the Mets could upgrade the team.

Michael S. said...

Thanks John!

Herb G said...

In the immortal words of Arte Johnson, "Verrrry interesting! verrrry interesting!" Franklin is certainly an interestign possibility. A switch hitter, with some speed, some pop, some gap power could be attractive. He'd certainly be worth giving up Flores for. Too bad the Mariners have filled their DH/1B coffers and can't use Murphy too. But DD and Wilmer wouldn't be too much for him.

There are a few internal possibilities worth mentioning, however, in addition to Havens, who just might stay healthy and surprise us all. (But that is a subject for another post.)

Consider first, T.J. Rivera. He's moved up 4 levels in his 2 years in the organization, and shown he can hit everywhere he goes. If he starts the year in Binghamton, and hits like he has before, you might see a September call up, or maybe even earlier.

Then there's Danny Muno. Played mostly SS but is better suited for 2B. After posting a monster 2011 season at Brooklyn where he was voted the # 18 prospect in the NYPL, he skipped over Savannah and went to St. Lucie, where he continued to accredit himself well. He hits from both sides of the plate and with his speed, could lead off.

Last, and maybe least (but then again, maybe not) is Wilfredo Tover. A potential Gold Glove infielder, if he can handle the bat better, the light hitting Tovar could earn a spot in our hearts, and on the 25 man roster as well. The move up to AA last year didn't phase him, but he will have to show some improvement offensively to get the call from Citi.

Michael S. said...

Hey Herb, thanks for the feedback.

I like Muno and Rivera, but I think both of them will wind up as bench players....just my gut.

Tovar seems to have a slick glove, but the bat has to come around.

Herb G said...

Well, clearly neither Rivera nor Muno is as highly regarded as Franklin. There must be a reason for that. But both have shown ability so far, and they bear watching as next season progresses.

Tovar, I fear, could be a case of Rey Ordonez redux. Despite the slick fielding, he'd be run out of Queens for riding the Mendoza line.

Michael S. said...

One quick addendum based on Herb's comment re: Murphy. Another positive effect of trading for Franklin is that it frees up Murphy to be dealt. He wouldn't bring back an impact star by himself, but I could see him as an important part of a trade package for one. If he isn't huddled, I could see him dealt for a young, speedy OF as he has value around baseball. Last winter, I remember that San Diego, Detroit, and Toronto all inquired about him.

jonah said...

How about Leury Garcia from Texas? Played AA last year. Has outstanding speed and a very good arm. With Andrus and Kinsler in Arlington and Profar banging on the door is there any room for him?

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