The Maikel Franco era might be coming to an end for the Phillies
It is safe to say Maikel Franco has underperformed in his four years donning a Phillies uniform. When Franco debuted in 2014, Philadelphia thought they had their guy. However, Franco has been far from the superstar he was expected to be.
Franco started his career the way many players do; a September call-up. He played 16 games batting an awful .179 without a homer and struck out more often than he got a hit (13 strikeouts 10 hits). Franco bounced back in his true rookie year, slugging 14 home runs with 50 RBI, all while batting a superb .280. Had he played a full year he would have set all his career highs to this point.
It looked like Franco would be the savior to a dreadful drought, and could be a star that could take the Phillies to the promised land. It has been all downhill since.
Franco had an okay 2016 with 25 home runs with 88 RBI, both career highs. His .255 AVG was not awful but it was not what was expected of the slugging third baseman. He would just keep spiraling downwards in 2017. He batted an awful .230 and had a lower average, slugging percentage, on base percentage and OPS than his 2016 season while also having fewer homers and RBI. Not to mention he also set a career high in errors at third base.
So how should the Phillies handle Franco? Philadelphia’s young core could be set. Odubel Herrera is coming off a phenomenal second half in which he batted .323 with eight home runs and 17 doubles (His 42 total were third-most in the National League). Rhys Hoskins had a historic start to his career; the question now is if he was a fluke or will add on to his dominant start. Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams had very impressive 2017 campaigns as they will likely make up the corner outfields. Aaron Nola showed flashes of ace-caliber but he has had an inconsistent career so far. J.P Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Scott Kingery also have impressed at this point in Lehigh Valley.
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Maybe Franco’s replacement will be Manny Machado. While it is unlikely the trade for him this offseason, it would be smart for Baltimore to trade him now so they can get pieces instead of just losing their star. How much would the Phillies sacrifice though?
It is an unlikely possibility but perhaps instead of giving up major prospects they give away Franco, in addition to César Hernández, Tommy Joseph and prospects not named Scott Kingery.
This would solidify Hoskins spot at first, open a spot for Machado and give Crawford the second base spot for the 2018 season until Galvis is traded where Crawford could be switched to shortstop and Kingery can play second.
This is all very unlikely to happen. If the Phillies do acquire Machado, it will likely not be till his free agency next year. That means Franco will likely have one last chance to prove himself. If he continues to disappoint, it could be Manny Mania in Philly.