== The surplus middle infielder will be too valuable to keep ==
Bear two things in mind:
- Middle infielders have great value relative to non-middle infielders, and middle infielders who can hit have perhaps the most value of all
- Barring catastrophic injury, the Mariners have locked up one of their two middle-infield spots for the next 10 — ten! — seasons
In other words, every middle infielder under contract to the Seattle Mariners is playing for one vacancy.
Or, in other other words, there are 13-year-olds who won’t even get drafted by the Mariners until 2019 who will still be playing for one vacancy. Well, probably … but you get the idea.
Brad Miller is a middle infielder who can hit.
Nick Franklin is a middle infielder who can hit.
Chris Taylor is a middle infielder who, so far, has been a surprisingly good hitter.
Carlos Triunfel is a middle infielder who is sometimes not a horrible hitter.
Ketel Marte is a middle infielder who can’t actually hit, but is very good at not striking out and putting the ball in play, which gives him a chance up there — and he’s a glove wizard.
And there will be even more. Maybe even the No. 6 pick in the 2014 draft.
In every case, though, the bulk of the value of the player comes from the fact that he is a middle infielder.
I presume the runner-up in the Brad Miller-Nick Franklin competition will be Franklin. I presume that because the Mariners have already picked Miller over Franklin in the minors (by bumping Franklin to 2b and keeping Miller at SS) and in 2013 in the majors (ditto). True, the staff is different this time, but the guy calling the shots at the top is not.
And, in the offensive battle, they’ve been stride-for-stride almost literally.
- Franklin 7-for-23 | 3 dbl, 0 tpl, 1 HR | 2 BB, 3 K | 1 steal | .304/.360/.565
- Miller 7-for-23 | 0 dbl, 1 tpl, 2 HR | 3 BB, 6 K | 1 steal | .304/.385/.652
Now, I like Franklin as much as the next guy. OK, technically I don’t like Franklin quite as much as the next guy, but I like him plenty. So I understand the reluctance to part with a guy with as much upside as he’s got.
But, face it: The runner-up in this competition will never realize full value on the Mariners roster. Never. Unless there is a catastrophic injury to Robinson Cano. [And let’s not think about that, please. Root canal is plenty, thank you.]
And it is so because Franklin (assuming it’s Franklin) realizes his value as a middle infielder who can hit.
As for all the other guys on the list, that’s not so much the case. Taylor might be more valuable as a utility guy and RH-complement to Miller. Marte is a pure glove guy and has value there.
But Franklin in a utility-bench role, or shifted to an outfield position, is a waste. Nice waste to have — sure — but, when another team could be using him in the middle of the field, a waste.
So convert him into something that fits into the Mariner future.
But no holding on for the sake of holding on either. Turn unused value to used value.