The San Diego Padres reportedly have interest in trading for Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, reports Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
San Diego could use an upgrade at the hot corner, as Christian Villanueva has regressed since his hot start to the season, but in-order to get Franco, Rosenthal notes that the Padres would need to trade the Phillies a player who could play third or shortstop.
Franco is back in the mix as the Phillies main third baseman after J.P. Crawford fractured his hand after getting hit by a pitch, and Scott Kingery has been seeing the bulk of the action at shortstop. While Franco is listed as the primary third baseman on the Phillies depth chart, it’s likely that manager Gabe Kapler will also give some playing time to Jesmuel Valentin.
There is also a strong possibility that the Phillies choose to add Franco into a trade to acquire one a relief pitcher from San Diego’s impressive bullpen. Left-handed closer Brad Hand has 21 saves this season, and with the struggles the Phillies have had closing games this season, it seems like a perfect fit, with the hoping being that Hector Neris can comeback from the minors and play a significant role in setting up Hand potentially.
It’s been a struggle for Franco to match the production he showed in 2015 which qualified as his rookie season. He had a .840 OPS that season, but hasn’t came anywhere close to that benchmark since then, and has a .723 OPS in 229 plate appearances to this point in 2018. He has posted 20+ seasons in homers in 2016 and 2017 to provide a bit of optimism, however.
Franco has been available via trade for quite sometime now, but as previously touched on, the Phillies won’t be compelled to move the 25-year-old until they have an obvious, healthy option that can play third base everyday. Crawford has struggled so far in his Major League career as well, which could further complicate the situation.
It’s likely that Franco could see a widespread of interest from teams in the American League, where he could potentially serve as a designated hitter. Franco grades out to be a below-average defender this season, and has graded that same way his entire career. He’s saved -7 defensive runs thus far, and has an ultimate zone rating of -2.7. FanGraphs graded Franco’s defense as -22.9 in 2017, and -3.9 this season.
The former top prospect Franco is slashing .256/.300/.423 with 9 homers and 37 runs batted in this season.
Photo: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports