Nick Franklin was expected to play an important part with the Tampa Bay Rays as their super utility player. Instead, he was designated for assignment earlier today.
An intriguing player, Nick Franklin was expected to serve as the Tampa Bay Rays super utility player for the 2017 season. He finally had what could have been considered to be a breakthrough performance with the bat, producing a solid .270/.328/.443 batting line with 16 extra base hits and six steals in 191 plate appearances. He had even cut down his strikeout rate from 33.9% in 2015 to 22.0% last year, as it seemed that he had become comfortable in the Majors.
However, Franklin remained a bit of a defensive liability. While he was at least somewhat passable in the outfield, he does not play much at short any longer. Yes, he can play there and at second, but the Rays wanted someone with a better glove for that utility infielder position.
With that being the case, Franklin was designated for assignment earlier today. The super utility role will be given to Daniel Robertson, who is a better defensive option than Franklin has been in his career. Likewise, both Mallex Smith and Peter Bourjos made the Rays Opening Day roster, forcing Franklin to be let go.
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Even though he was somewhat replaceable on the Rays roster, this move is still a bit of a surprise. Franklin had begun to show his long awaited promise with the bat, and at just 26 years old, still has time to develop. Instead, as he was out of options, the Rays elected to remove him from the 40 man roster.
In a way, the writing was likely on the wall when Tampa Bay acquired Bourjos. Franklin had already spent much of his tenure with the Rays in the minors, despite there being a need for his bat in the lineup. For all of his promise and intrigue, he just did not fit in well with the organizational philosophy, even after their increased focus on power.
If he clears waivers, it would not be a surprise to see Franklin return to the Rays on a minor league deal. However, that may not happen, as quite a few teams could use his services. Maybe he is not the defensive player that the Rays desired, but his improvement offensively last season is worth taking a gamble on.
The Tampa Bay Rays have designated Nick Franklin for assignment. Chances are, he will not be unemployed for long.