Is Juan Lagares the Key to a Nick Franklin Deal?

Nick Franklin

On Monday some rumors began surfacing regarding the Seattle Mariners shopping middle infielder Nick Franklin. Considering that the Mets current shortstop is Ruben Tejada, it didn’t take long for thoughts of a potential Mets/Mariners deal to begin surfacing. Knowing that the supposed strength of the Mets organization is pitching, those of us in New York started thinking about what level of pitcher was a fair price for Franklin, who has been a consistent Top 100 prospect. If you scanned the Mets blogosphere, it was unanimous that Noah Syndergaard had to be off limits. After that, opinions varied, and I didn’t get any official numbers, but it appeared to me that a majority of folks thought Rafael Montero was too high a price to pay. That got me to thinking, what did the Mariner bloggers think about our players? Who did they think would help the Mariners? With the help of Google, I have cut out the responses from three of the major Seattle blogs. I found the answers fair (nobody suggested the Mets should have to part with Syndergaard) and not exactly what I expected.

First up is from Scott Weber at Lookout Landing. Scott had some interest in both Rafael Montero and Juan Lagares. To be fair to the author, he indicated that if both were included, Seattle would have to add something besides Franklin on their end.

Scott writes:

“Lagares would fill a tremendous need for the Mariners, whose current defensive outfield alignment is a bunch of hot garbage, likely about to get worse if they bring back Kendrys Morales. Having a stud to cover acres in center could go a long way in assisting lesser fielders in the corners.

Any deal structured around Nick Franklin seems like it would have to include at least one of Montero or Lagares, and the latter would start a cascading fallout of roster shuffle.

What do you think? Is Rafael Montero enough, or do you want both?”

My next stop was a post from Todd Pheifer over at Emerald City Swagger. Todd was not especially interested in trading Franklin at all, but did lament the state of the Mariner outfield.

“In addition, there is the issue of what type of player the Mariners should ask for in return. Could the Mariners acquire yet another pitching prospect? Or, should the Mariners push for a player who could bolster the less-than-exciting group of outfielders that will likely patrol Safeco Field in 2014?

Ultimately, the Mariners should not move Franklin just to get him off the roster. Seattle should take their time, let him come off the bench, and perhaps experiment with him in the outfield. Would his defense be any worse than Corey Hart or Logan Morrison and their bad knees?”

The last blog I looked at is Sodo Mojo, and an article written by Dan Hughes. Hughes was certainly not thinking about pitching.

“So what can the M’s get from New York?

OF Juan Lagares comes to mind. He is a true center fielder that is under club control until 2020. His dWAR in 2013 was 3.5 compared to the -1.1 of Michael Saunders or the -0.3 of Dustin Ackley.

This is a team that needs to improve on defense. Lagares would give him that. His slash line of .242/.281/.352 is nothing to write home about. But he was typically used in the lower half of the order. Move him to the leadoff or No. 2 spot and he could really flourish.

Stay tuned as more on this story develops.”

Lagares at bat

Certainly not a full poll of Mariner Nation, but even with this limited sample size, I found it surprising that the Mariners might be more interested in Lagares than anyone else on the Mets. Ultimately only Jack Zduriencik knows what type of player he is seeking for Franklin, or how badly he would like to make a deal at this time.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is not going to be Jake deGrom — and root like hell to be proven wrong.





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  1. Dave says:


  2. Five things:

    1) Great job looking at this from the Mariners’ perspective.

    2) I am experiencing some dissonance, in that I believe that I value Juan Lagares more highly than the brain trust in the Mets organization does. To me, I see a possible Gold Glove answer in CF for years to come. Whereas the Mets see, I think, a guy who doesn’t walk enough with little pop. I’m not eager to trade Lagares, but if they don’t believe in him . . .

    3) Most importantly, this underscores the point I’ve tried to make, again and again, about prospects in general. Just a taste of ML success increases their value exponentially. What was Lagares worth a year ago today? The same is true for Montero, Mejia, Familia, Flores, etc. When you artificially hold these guys back, as the Mets do, you devalue your own assets. A capable April-June for Montero in NY is worth way more than a Montero who stays down in AAA, scuffling in the PCL.

    4) I don’t think this trade is going to happen, but it’s interesting to think about.

    5) For Dave: Get Drew already. Two years.

  3. Glenn says:

    I agree in that I value Lagares tremendously for his defense in center andi think he will be a better hitter this year than he is being given credit for. That said, if Collins is intent in playing Eric Young Jr. than I would much rather include Lagares as a centerpiece to get Franklin than trade Rafael Montero than just have Lagares be in Vegas or as a 4th outfielder. Contrary to some others, I actually think Franklin is a much better option than Drew – I think his floor matches Drew’s current production and he has way more upside. Plus, he is just 23 and is under team control or 5 years till free agency. We’d all love to get him for DeGrom but I think Sandy would have done that deal by now if that was all it took. Conversely, I don’t think he is willing to do Montero as I believe that would have gotten it done already for Seattle. Again, it all comes down to their plans for Lagares – if they plan to play him every day than sign Drew and give up the 3rd round pick. But if Collins is committed to EY Jr. at lead off than Lagares provides more value in serving as a main piece to get Franklin so we can retain our young pitching surplus. Remember, we also have Matt den dekker who is said to be every bit as good defensively as Lagares and we can use him as a defensive replacement and lefty pinch hitter (he is 27 years old already).

    • Michael Geus says:

      Glenn, good comments, thanks for stopping by. I agree, Seattle would be nuts to trade Franklin for deGrom.

    • Glenn, thanks for commenting. I agree with this, re: Lagares. While I personally would like to see the Mets invest in Lagares and support his development, all the tea leaves suggest he’s going to be Mejia’d. (Yes, that’s a verb now; I just invented it.) Even as a 4th outfielder, I think that Terry will turn him into a platoon player, retarding his development, and sit him after every 0-10 stretch. If that’s going to be the case — or worse, Vegas — then it’s easier to see him go. But boy, for a small-market team, it seems crazy to pay Chris Young $7.25 million and then neglect the cheap, homegrown player you control until 2020.

      On den Dekker, I’m not a believer, but agree that the glove looks terrific. All those strikeouts indicate to me a deeper problem. Could be wrong, as a year ago, taking my signals from the organization, Juan Lagares wasn’t really a blip on my radar. It’s wild to think that they didn’t even put him in CF until 2012. Go back and read the scouting reports on the blogs and nobody even mentions his defense. It’s bizarre, and shows how dependent upon reading a page of statistics that internet “scouting” has become.

      We’ve joked in the past that if Sandy really thought Lagares was a prospect, he’d never have been called up. We wouldn’t have wanted to start the service time clock. The best guys we stash away, fearful we might have to pay him someday.

      I should add that I don’t know if Franklin can play an adequate SS or not. I just have no idea, but reports indicate probably not. At least with Drew we know he’s a ML shortstop. Flores is the guy who hovers around the edges here. You have to wonder if, given the chance, he might be quite close to Franklin already — in terms of both strengths and weaknesses.

  4. Eric says:

    I have to say that I was very optimistic ending last season, thinking that the Mets had two strong assets up the middle, in TDA and Lagares. Let Juan get regular playing time this year to develop, and you could have a core player to pencil in for years to come. If he doesn’t produce, then you can start mixing and matching to see what other options you have. CY is a one year rental, and EYJ is more of a 4th outfielder.

    I just don’t understand why you have to begin with unnecessary uncertainty at CF, when you are unfortunately burdened with it at other positions.

    • Walks and power. Sandy values them very highly, which is why he made all those desperate promises to Chris Young. It’s as if the Mets GM doesn’t realize that his team is built around pitching, and that they play in at Citi Field.

      Here’s my question: Alderson admitted that he promised Chris Young ABs. “Promised” was his word. However, he only said that Young would get a shot to play CF. But it is conceivable — even likely — that he promised CF, too. Just not, you know, publicly.

      I’m saying that the more I think on it, I believe that Sandy Alderson did in fact promise Chris Young the starting CF job.

      • Eric says:

        I’ve grown extremely tired of the term “organizational philosophy” and how it relates to the Mets. Get the most talented players you can assemble, who complement each other for the greater good of the team i.e. wins., regardless of what their various strengths and attributes are. Sorry, but I don’t find a hitter working a deep count to be compelling baseball all of the time.

  5. Interesting that the Mariners bloggers seem to have a greater appreciation for what Lagares brings to CF than do the Mets “braintrust.” Sign Drew, keep Lagares in CF, and let’s get the young pitchers out there so we can truly find out what they have to offer, which will correspondingly begin to reveal their actual trade value.

  6. ReneNYM1 says:

    If Franklin could really play SS then why was he playing at second,the jury is still out on that and I don’t want to give a sure thing with the glove we have at center for a prospect at SS,Franklin didn’t hit well in the majors either.

  7. Michael Geus says:

    Regarding Drew, I’ve never understood the attraction. In 2011 and 2012 Drew’s OPS numbers were .713 and .657, which averages .685. In the same years Ruben Tejada posted numbers of .696 and .685 to average .690.

    And when I discussed Tejada last offseason, with that baseline, I saw him as at best a mediocre player. A guy who you might be able to win with, but not a guy who would actually create the winning.

    Then in 2013 Tejada cratered, going .519. Drew had a nice year, at .777. Tejada was surrounded by garbage, Drew by a bunch of World Champions.

    Boston considered Drew so integral to their success that they won’t make him as much as a two year offer. And this is a team that maintains a very large payroll.

    Hey, I still think Tejada stinks, but throwing a lot of our puny payroll at a mediocre player seems like a bad idea to me. If the number gets very low (doubtful with Boras) and it’s one year deal I could hold my nose on the guy but anything more might kill us.

    If Drew reverts back to his 2011 and 2012 level we would be paying big dollars for production that was yawn worthy from Tejada at the major league minimum. That seems more likely to me than what he did last year playing at Fenway on a loaded team.

    I’m with Sandy all the way on Drew.

    • Well, Mike, you are cooking the books a bit in this instance, as Raff pointed out. It’s fair to expect that a healthy Drew would give you a .725 OPS and solid defense. He’s 30 years old, an established veteran. I don’t think Tejeda can be counted on to produce. Of course, we are talking likelihoods.

      Could Drew get injured? Yes. But it might even be more likely that Tejeda gets injured. And imagine the sorrow and shame of another Omar Quintanilla year at SS.

      As fans, it’s tempting to look at salary and go for the cheaper guy who is almost as good. But those extra 1-2 wins matter, sometimes you have to go for the guy who is a little bit better. That’s how teams improve. In star players, yes, but also in increments and minor upgrades. I don’t see a two-year deal for Drew as a financial hardship. And as you’ve said many times, it’s not like they are going to save that money to spend it at a later date.

      I’m with Sandy in terms of driving a hard bargain, and not bidding against himself. But I’d like to see him get this done.

      • Michael Geus says:

        Looking back three years is pretty standard stuff, what a guy did at 23 or 24 is rarely more relevant. That’s why Baseball Prospectus, for instance, lists only the last three years in the player profiles. I never knew it was cooking the books, but I learn something new every day.

        But fine, my issue with Drew is more about financials.

        I don’t understand how the second year is not a problem. It’s a pretty good assumption that this teams payroll is not going anywhere again in 2015. Granderson is now on the books for a lot of money, and Wright, and Colon too. Colon in particular has a scary chance of being sunk funds. If Drew reverts back to 2011 and 2012 levels and he is signed for another year, even more money is tied up that cannot go to other needs. Instead we have a high paid crappy guy.

        For 2014 only I can understand it. It can only help, and as you said, one or two more wins could matter. And I agree, I don’t expect the Wilpons to put that money in an account for 2015. But I’m not willing to go two. I don’t trust this guy enough.

        When it comes to Drew I seem to be the only guy who doesn’t believe. If we sign him, hopefully I’m wrong about him.

  8. Raff says:

    Weren’t Drew’s 2011 and 2012 were affected by injuries? His performance in 2013 was a return to his baseball card averages. If he could now be signed for something like 2 years at $14mm it would be a good move.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Yes, he had a serious ankle fracture in 2011. All the more reason to steer clear, injuries of his type generally create some permanent loss of motion in the joint that hinders mobility. I haven’t watched tape of Drew pre-2011 versus post-2011 but it is logical to assume he has lost a step. His medical situation is another good reason to not offer him a contact beyond one year.

      I say, buyer beware here.

  9. Eraff says:

    Drew has 4000 ab’s that define a 764 ops guy—that’s what he is. He’s essentially a Dan Murphy Bat with a Top Half MLB SS Glove—that’s a really nice player.

  10. Raff says:

    Drew is one of those guys who carry the kiss of death label “Injury-Prone”. It’s an easy label to apply- just look at the number of games he’s lost to injury- but it’s hard to define. Does a fracture , due to a slide, or due to being hit TWICE by a fastball on the same arm (Granderson) apply to the same degree as those repeat hamstring and muscular injuries (Reyes), or repeat shoulder or elbow issues(Santana), or concussion? Who really knows? I suspect the fractures are less repeatable and predictable, but what do I know? Nothing. Ellsbury got the “rap” in Boston after having 3 ribs broken, and initially misdiagnosed, in a collision with Adrian Beltre. Drew is a good player. If the Mets can get him on a good deal, and if professional medical personnel clear him as not being endemically susceptible to injury- I think that’s what you have to go with.

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