The Philadelphia Phillies will look to win their fourth straight game Wednesday night, as they play the third game of a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds. Maikel Franco isn’t with the Phillies in Cincinnati, but he’s also no longer playing with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, whose season concluded on Monday. Franco, who the Phillies optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 26 – his birthday – isn’t eligible to return to the major leagues until Thursday, after he’s spent 10 days in the minor leagues.
Apparently, the Phillies, with Franco’s best interests in mind, weighed not bringing him back at all.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia says that the Phillies had internal discussions within the last week of “cutting Franco loose now,” which would have potentially allowed him to join a team where he could play a bigger role than he will for the Phillies in the final few weeks of the 2019 season. Ultimately, though, the Phillies can have every player on their 40-man roster play at the major league level in September, and that’s what they’ll do with the 27-year-old.
Had the Phillies gone through with moving on from Franco before the season’s end, he would have been placed on waivers. It feels very likely that Franco would have been claimed, given that he still has two years left of team control before becoming eligible for free-agency. This offseason, the Phillies could trade Franco for a very minimal return just as a form of window dressing. It’s possible, however, that they simply non-tender him and allow him to pick his next team. Theoretically, he would fit best on an American League team, where he could DH, in addition to playing either corner infield position.
Though Franco has 100 career home runs, he also carries just a .302 career on-base percentage. Though he’s worked to correct it, Franco still posted a 44.5 percent groundball percentage in 2019, which is actually tied for the best mark in his career. Given that Franco doesn’t have quick feet – which is being generous – him continuing to put the ball on the ground that frequently is a major issue.
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