Former Phillies 3B Maikel Franco Drawing Free-Agent Interest
Free-agent 3B Maikel Franco, who played more than 650 games for the Phillies over the past six seasons, is reportedly drawing interest from an AL West team.
It didn’t take long for the Phillies to find their replacements for their recently non-tendered, and then-longest-tenured players, infielders Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez.
The Phillies reunited manager Joe Girardi with Didi Gregorius on Tuesday on a one-year, $14 million pact; and, considering the club is near the luxury tax, that likely means Scott Kingery will man the hot corner until top prospect Alec Bohm is ready for promotion to the major leagues.
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Franco, 27, had played in the Phillies organization since he was 17 and for the first time will explore the possibility of signing with another this offseason. At least one team is already reportedly interested in the six-year veteran: the Texas Rangers.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Franco is “among the third base options” the Rangers will consider if their top target, 2019 All-Star and World Series champion Anthony Rendon, signs elsewhere.
Coincidentally, the Phillies are reportedly out on Rendon themselves after signing Gregorius.
In his six seasons with the Phillies, Franco slashed .249/.302/.431 with 110 doubles, 102 home runs, 343 RBI, 173 walks and 389 strikeouts spanning 656 games and 2,539 plate appearances.
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This past season, Franco was intentionally walked the second-most times among National League batters (19); among third basemen in the NL, he recorded the most putouts in 2017, 103.
Along with the Rangers, Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes speculates that Franco would be a good fit for the Cleveland Indians, which would reunite him with his former teammate and mentor, Carlos Santana:
"When the Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year $60 million deal before the 2018 season, they asked him to mentor Franco, their third baseman. They put Franco’s locker next to Santana’s and the right-handed hitting third baseman hit .270 (117-for-433) with 22 homers, 68 RBI and a .780 OPS. …The Phillies non-tendered Franco and second baseman Cesar Hernandez on Dec. 2. The Indians are looking for a replacement for Jason Kipnis at second base. Jose Ramirez has said he’ll play second or third depending on who the Indians sign. Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations, said the Indians would prefer to keep Ramirez a third base if at all possible. Still, that does not completely close the door on an infield of Franco at third, Lindor at shortstop, Ramirez at second and Santana at first."
Unlike Franco, Hernandez has not yet drawn reported interest from any team since being non-tendered.