Phillies: How long of a future does Maikel Franco have in Philadelphia?

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs to third base on his way to scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on June 28, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs to third base on his way to scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on June 28, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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With continuing middle-of-the-road production and trade rumors swirling, how much longer does Maikel Franco have with the Phillies?

Coming into this year, most Phillies fans knew it was now or never for Maikel Franco. The 25-year-old third baseman has been one of the more frustrating players on the team with a strong rookie campaign in 2015 but two disappointing seasons. 2018 has long been considered the deadline for Franco to produce with the talented free agent class coming during the offseason.

As a whole this year, Franco has produced at a fairly similar level to his 2016 season. He has a .258/.302/.442 line with 10 home runs, 38 runs batted in, and a 95 wRC+ in 71 games. His numbers have grown thanks to a hot week, collecting 10 hits, including five doubles and a home run, since June 23. Prior to the 23rd, he had an 82 wRC+ and .695 OPS.

While these numbers are better compared to last year, he has a 100 OPS+, meaning he is a league-average hitter. He has been worth 0.4 wins below replacement this year according to Baseball Reference. The only reason he has been in the lineup every day is that J.P. Crawford broke his hand and will be out until the end of July.

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With Franco not producing up to expectations, the team has started exploring other options at the hot corner. The team is reportedly interested in Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, and talks have progressed to the point that Kansas City is scouting some of Philadelphia’s prospects. They have also shown interest in acquiring Adrian Beltre to both boost the lineup and bring in a veteran leader. Of course, the elephant in the room here is Manny Machado.

Philadelphia is one of the top suitors for the three-time All-Star, both at the trade deadline and during free agency this offseason. There is an obvious positional fit.

In addition, a connection exists thanks to general manager Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail’s time in Baltimore. While the Phils won’t be the only team interested in Machado, they will certainly make a run at him.

With the team clearly interested in upgrading at third base, where does this leave Franco? His future is certainly up in the air as a starter, and how long he remains in Philadelphia remains to be seen.

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Franco could be on the move as well this year, with the Padres reportedly showing interest in him. He could be one of the pieces shipped out in any potential trade this year, especially for another third baseman.

If Franco isn’t traded during the season, he will become arbitration-eligible during the offseason. The team may still offer him a contract even if his roster spot isn’t guaranteed like they did with Cameron Rupp this year.

He would have to earn his role with a budding logjam in the infield.

Next: Phillies activate Neshek, but lose Velasquez

The future isn’t clear at all for Franco. He could be replaced as soon as the end of this month and may not even have a place on the team next year. At this point, all we can do is let things play out.

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