Raising Questions

So what will happen with Maikel Franco?

Baseball works in mysterious ways sometimes and the Phillies may be seeing one of those weird ways right now. This weird, twisted tale has been working itself out now for about the last three years and it’s finally coming to a head. The main players involved are Freddy Galvis, JP Crawford and Maikel Franco.

We all know the story of these three. In 2015 Galvis was looking like Crawford’s placeholder and Franco was quickly becoming a star. Then in 2016 Galvis’ glove took root, Crawford’s play in general was stymied, and the question marks started to arise with Franco. 2017 started and Galvis continued to solidify his future while Crawford and Franco continued to struggle. For the last half of ’17, however, Crawford has really turned it on (REALLY turned it on) and has moved off shortstop to third where, at the big league level, Franco’s play has left the door open for opportunity.

Crawford will almost definitely be called up this month and that may leave Franco as the odd man out. What exactly is Franco’s future with the Phillies? Where does he fit in next season if no moves are made that affect his situation?

MOVED TO THE BENCH

Franco could serve the team as a bench option. This doesn’t seem a likely scenario because of his troubles offensively. He doesn’t add much in terms of versatility and if he can’t hit then what value is there in him being a pinch hitter? Besides, as a bat off the bench he likely won’t get many chances to hit and runs the risk of being even less effective than he currently is.

SENT TO THE MINORS

The Phillies could still send him down to see if he can regain some of what he had when he first came up (he has one option year remaining. There he’ll get the chance to play every day and perhaps this will put him back on track. The only drawback here is that he’d still be taking up a spot of the 40-man roster and those have been very valuable to the Phillies the last few years, having nearly lost Hoby Milner last offseason due to not having the room. Besides all of that it’s tough to come up with an example of this ever having benefited a player who has spent as much time in the majors as Franco has.

TRADED

It seems unlikely that the Phils could trade him. All of his value lies in unrealized potential to this point. Who wants a third basemen with the lowest WAR at the position? And that’s dating back to the start of the 2016 season, not just this year. They could try to trade him but the value just isn’t there. He’d also be competing against Todd Frazier, Mark Reynolds, Mike Moustakas and a whole host of free agent third basemen that teams could pick from. Impending free agent Jose Reyes, as bad as he’s been, has still put up more value than Franco.

RELEASED

It’s hard to believe that this is even a possibility that we could be seriously discussing, but it is. Having explored the other three options what else is there? And there’s some precedence for this – Dominic Brown still had two years of team control when the Phillies decided to move on from him. Brown was at one point the top-ranked prospect in the sport, an all-star and a player who had one of the best single months in baseball history; Franco doesn’t have any of that on his side. Again, the roster spot that he’s occupying is extremely valuable to the club.

Of course, Crawford could come up and prove to everyone that he’s entirely NOT ready too, and that he needs more time at triple-A. He could have a horrible month after being called up this season followed by a dismal spring training and that could completely change the Phils’ feelings about third base or the infield in general. But if he’s anything close to what he’s been a majority of his time in the minors – professional at-bats, stellar range in the field, etc. – it’s going to make it very hard for the Phillies to not play him regularly and that’s going to severely decrease their need for Franco.

Offensively Crawford isn’t exactly your prototypical third basemen either; it’s a position usually reserved for a lot of power. Defensively, a left side of the diamond featuring Galvis and Crawford is an incredibly tantalizing proposition. Theoretically it would make it extremely challenging to get a ground ball through that side.

You could probably take this same piece and apply it to Tommy Jospeh and Cameron Rupp, too. They are in about the exact same situation as Franco is here only they didn’t have the expectations that Franco had as a top prospect coming out of the minors. These are big decisions for the organization and the decision basically boils down to “give another shot” or “let’s just move toward the future.”

I personally would love to hear what you guys think. Where do you see Franco next year? Tweet me and let me know or leave a comment.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Betasigmadeltashag

    September 3, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I know a lot of you love your WAR stat, but to me it is arbitrary and over used. I also don’t agree Franco has no trade value. They may not get a teams top prospect, but his age and ability to not spend a ton of money, for potential above avg 3rd baseman. Franco has the ability to be a gold glove level defensive player, and there may be teams that see his offensive potential, and think they can bring that out. Also sending him to the minors might be worth it, it work for Puig in LA a little bit. Also you could package him with a prospect or even Hernandez and or Joseph to get a decent return. An infield of Hoskins – Kingerly- Galvis- Crawford and an OF of Herrera- Altherr-Williams could be formative offense. I personally like Rupp as a back up catcher and make a decision what you may get for one of the othe 2 catchers also

  2. Jaron B

    September 3, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    I see Franco given one last chance to put up his .280 avg from two years ago. We have time before contention – maybe next year if (1) the team plays like they have post-ASBreak yr-round, (2) they sign the right guys to hold the fort: 1 to maybe 3 starters, ~2 relievers, & 1-2 bench players (3 if they want a catcher), and most importantly (3) the young guys break out.

    I think they ultimately will be watchable next year and contend beginning 2019. If contention was inevitable next yr, Franco would be given a very short leash in S.T.

  3. Jack

    September 3, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    The Phils made a major error in not sending Franco down to Lehigh Valley in June or July and using Floriman and Blanco as the third baseman temporarily so that Franco could regain his confidence and work on his mechanics. That of course is hindsight. the thing to do with him now is to send them to one of the winter leagues

  4. Keg

    September 3, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Franco should and probably will be given another chance. You can’t compare him to Joseph or Rupp, because they’re both defensive liabilities. They need to move him to 7th in the order, and hope this takes that all or nothing mentality away. Crawford shouldn’t be at 3b. That position is for power and rbi’s. The only way you wouldn’t need that, is if it were coming from both second and SS. Galvis and Hernandez wouldn’t provide that. Freddy should become a super utility player. Keep Crawford at short. He’s a future leadoff hitter with above average defense at a major position. We know what Freddy can do with the bat. Maybe we put Kingery at third during the winter and early next year to see if he can become that third baseman.

  5. Mike

    September 3, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    As things sit now, with the exception of third base, the Phils have at least one good option at each position. I’d guess that they will trade – Hernandez or Kingery, Galvis or Crawford and probably Rupp. They need starting pitching in a bad way so I’d guess that’s what they should pursue. This leaves 2018 as Franco’s last chance to secure the 3B role. If Franco fails then they should pursue Machado. Regardless they should trade for starting pitching.

  6. Craig Glessner

    September 3, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I completely agree that Galvis should be a super utility player I have said all along that Kingery should not be called up until the day after we have contract control for an extra year. Let Kingery play third at AAA and use Franco and Galvis in the meantime. I disagree that third needs to be a position of power if it can be a position of putting a solid defense together and hitters that can produce good at bats. If we can trade either Franco or Hernandez for quality starting pitching at the major league level not minor league pitchers we move them. Galvis is too important in the clubhouse to move we need to talk contract extension with him. I don’t want to say I’m giving up on Franco but I’d be shopping him Rupp Joseph and Hernandez for starting pitching. Alfaro Hoskins Kingery Crawford Galvis Williams Herrera and Altheer is my starters by next July. Our next dynasty is coming Philly Nation God send us some arms.

  7. Milton Trachtenburg

    September 4, 2017 at 9:21 am

    This is not an unpleasant situation to be in. Never have the Phillies had so many possibilities thanks to the available options in the minors. And, this doesn’t even account for picking up free agents if the Phils believe that they have the nucleus for a better team already in place. The outfield looks like it could be set for the next decade. Hoskins looks like the real deal at first. Galvis and Hernandez are solid major leaguers with Scott Kingery pushing somebody next year. Catcher looks solid. Rupp, Joseph and Franco are the three question marks and there are replacements for at least two of them. Kingery and Crawford could produce the next third baseman. Or, they could pick up a Mike Moustakis in free agency.

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