Odubel Herrera has been paid by the Phillies, but don’t expect Maikel Franco to be any time soon
Matt Klentak is identifying which players will be part of the core once the Phillies can return to being perennial contenders.
Odubel Herrera appears to be the first member of that core, signing a contract extension that could keep him in Philadelphia for up to seven years.
After Herrera, the next rising star on the Phillies is supposed to be third baseman Maikel Franco. Once the top prospect in the Phillies organization, Franco was expected to be a thundering bat in the middle of the lineup that could produce 40 home runs. Mike Schmidt even tabbed Franco as a future MVP recipient.
With increased playing time in 2016, Franco saw nearly all his numbers double from his rookie season. With the multiplied numbers and playing time came even more strikeouts and a lower on-base percentage.
Some fear Franco won’t turn into the 40 home run monster cemented into the four-hole of the Phillies lineup for the next 10 years. With his first year of arbitration approaching at the end of this season, Franco needs to put up or shut up.
If Franco can not develop a more advanced hitting approach by the time his arbitration seasons begin to kick-in, the Phillies could decide to either trade or (while unlikely) not tender Franco.
Instead, Orioles superstar Manny Machado could be making the trip up I-95 to Philadelphia in 2018. With Odubel Herrera’s contract the only deal carrying any significant load on the Phillies payroll, being able to afford a free agent such as Machado, who hit 37 home runs last year, would be extremely easy.
Should Franco not hit 30 home runs and increase his batting average up into the .280 range, the Phillies could decide to spend their money elsewhere.