Maikel Franco was once believed to be the next Phillie to win an MVP by some, but his time with the ballclub has come to a close.
Franco was projected to make $6.7 million in 2020 through the arbitration process by MLB Trade Rumors. He will now enter free agency for the first time in his career.
Although MVP-caliber expectations were probably a bit unfair, Franco was the Paul Owens Award winner for the best minor league player in the organization in 2013. He entered the next season as the top-rated prospect in the Phillies system.
After a brief stint in the majors in 2014, Franco posted an extremely promising 2015 rookie season. He posted an OPS of .840 with 14 home runs and 22 doubles in just 80 games.
Franco was never able to produce the same results since that rookie season. Flashes of the talent have shown but was never consistently sustained.
His OPS in a single season topped out at .780 after 2015. Franco was never able to break out like many had thought he would. The organization had put its faith in Franco on multiple occasions, including last offseason when they did not sign either Manny Machado or Mike Moustakas in free agency after being connected to those players.
This past season was the low point of Franco’s tenure in Philadelphia. After hitting six home runs with an OPS of 1.014 through the first 16 games of 2019, he struggled for much of the remaining time in the season. Franco was ultimately sent down to Triple-A in August before returning when the rosters expanded in September. Overall, Franco posted an OPS of .705 and an fWAR of -0.5 in 2019.
A career ground ball rate of 45.8 percent has prevented Franco from reaching his full potential as a Phillie. He has often pulled hittable pitches into the ground instead of driving them, hindering his production severely.
Franco may one day figure it all out but it will not be in Philadelphia.
Perhaps a change of scenery will do Franco well. As Phillies team president Andy MacPhail said about Franco after the 2018 season, “The other team, maybe they’ll find the key.”
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