Designated for assignment on Saturday by the Tampa Bay Rays, utility man Nick Franklin did not make it through waivers as he was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
So much so for pinning the label on Nick Franklin as the next “Ben Zobrist.” His tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays has officially ended as the Milwaukee Brewers have claimed Franklin off waivers. Franklin in a surprising move by the Rays was designated for assignment to create a spot on the 40-man roster for outfielder Peter Bourjos.
Upon the Rays trade of Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers, Franklin’s name came up as a possible in-house replacement for Forsythe, though the Rays preferred to have him around as their super utility player. So it came as a shock to many when the Rays designated on Saturday despite his versatility and awarded rookie Daniel Robertson the role.
The decision to cut ties with Franklin was not an easy one, but it came down to the fact that they needed someone that could backup shortstop. Although Franklin has played short, the majority of his time has been spent in the corner outfield positions and at first where he has played adequately, but is somewhat of a liability in the infield where he was needed the most. Essentially, it was Robertson’s defensive ability not only in the shortstop position, but also at second and third as well to handle the job.
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Franklin had a solid 2016 season when he batted .270/.328/.443 (60 games) in 191 at-bats, with six home runs, 26 RBIs, 10 doubles and it seemed as though he finally came into his own after the numerous shuttle runs back and forth to Triple-A Durham to work on his hitting.
Franklin had an outstanding spring batting .362/.434/.532 (22 games) in 47 at-bats, which included 2 home runs, two doubles, eight RBIs and four stolen bases.
His journey to Tampa Bay came via the Rays three-team trade with the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners in 2014 that sent David Price to Detroit with the Rays getting Drew Smyly and top prospect Willy Adames from Detroit with Franklin coming from Seattle as the Detroit sent Austin Jackson to Seattle. As of today, Adames is the only piece remaining from this trade.
Today was Ray’s day on the waiver wire as two other former Rays were claimed off waivers. Claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds was Desmond Jennings as he has found his way to the “Big Apple” signing a minor league deal with the New York Mets. The Rays released Jennings last August and he was signed this offseason by the Cincinnati Reds and released late in spring training. Jennings hit .195/.300/.415 in 18 games with the Reds this spring.
The Reds meanwhile claimed Tyler Goeddel, whom the Rays lost in the 2015 Rule 5 draft to the Philadelphia Phillies when they chose not to add him to the 40-man roster. Goeddel spent all of 2016 with the Phillies where he slashed .192/.258/.291.