King: Mariners scouting David Phelps



According to George King, the Mariners had a scout on hand to watch David Phelps‘ second spring start last night. He got hit around pretty hard but held the Orioles to only one run in 2.2 innings, striking out two and walking one. Phelps is currently competing for the fifth starter spot, though Joe Girardi confirmed he will make the team in some capacity.

The Mariners have been hit hard by injuries this spring. Co-ace Hisashi Iwakuma is sidelined with a finger sprain and top prospect Taijuan Walker is dealing with a shoulder problem. Manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed both guys will open the season on the DL, leaving the team with Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Brandon Maurer, and Scott Baker behind Felix Hernandez. Their need for another arm is obvious.

Seattle’s top trade chip is infielder Nick Franklin, who was pushed into trade chip status by the Robinson Cano signing. The 23-year-old switch-hitter hit .225/.303/.382 (90 wRC+) with 12 homers, six steals, and a 27.4% strikeout rate in his 412 plate appearance MLB debut last season. His defense is shaky — he’s already moved off short and is error prone at second — and more than a few people think he’ll have to drop switch-hitting and stick to batting lefty down the road. Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he “profiles as a solid regular who could play in a few All-Star Games” before last season.

Franklin. (Presswire)

Franklin. (Presswire)

The Yankees desperately need a young infielder and Franklin certainly fits the bill even though I’m not his biggest fan. I’d trade four five years of Phelps for six years of Franklin in a heartbeat, but I suspect the Mariners are going to want another piece or two. Both the Mets and Rays have been talking to Seattle about Franklin — Tampa was reportedly on the verge of the deal, but then Jeremy Hellickson got hurt and they were reluctant to sacrifice pitching depth — so there is plenty of competition.

Of the various fifth starter candidates, the 27-year-old Phelps feels like the safest bet to be a productive big leaguer in 2014. In order to deal him, I think the Yankees would have to feel pretty good about Michael Pineda heading into the season and/or be open to signing a low-cost pitcher (Jeff Niemann? Jeff Karstens?) to replace the depth. Given their pitching situation, I’m guessing the Mariners would like to get a deal done sooner rather than later. That could work to New York’s advantage in trade talks.

In other news, King says both the White Sox and Brewers also had scouts on hand for last night’s game. Both clubs are looking for catching depth, something the Yankees can spare. Chicago has some infield depth to offer and we’ve already heard the Yankees will monitor Rickie Weeks this spring. Given the infield situation, the Yankees could swap Phelps+ for Franklin and a catcher for Weeks or one of the ChiSox infielders (or one of the Diamondbacks infielders). It doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.

  • GT Yankee

    Might be a pipedream, but if they’re going to swing a trade for a young infielder I’d rather see them attempt to get Chris Owings

    • Zachariah

      As Mike said I dont think it has to be one or the other. We could trade Phelps + to get Franklin and still shop Murphy + to land Owings or Gregorius. They would both still get plenty of PT this year because Roberts will inevitably get hurt and honestly probably wouldnt outproduce either of those guys anyways. Then you would have your MIF for years to come.

      • stevie

        Mike is out of his mind !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • qwerty

      The yankees could have drafted Owings, but we got Heathcott instead.

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    I’d drive Phelps to the airport if Franklin was the return.

    and I am a fan of Phelps, but I think our front 4 is strong and we have the resources both internally (Nuno, Warren, Banuelos) as well as the money to sign some stopgap options or trade for one at the deadline if Pineda or any of our other SP’s falter.

    if the Mariners think Phelps is an acceptable headline piece in a Franklin deal, the only question is what 2nd and 3rd pieces would they need to pull the trigger

    • nycsportzfan

      Oh without a doubt, if they wanted Phelps and another decent but not huge name prospect, i’d be with you. As you said, the depth the yanks have of ML ready arms is very impressive, especially with Nuno and Warren, and its not outta this world to assume, another one can come into the fold as the season unfolds. The teams deep man, and if you get Franklin, you pretty much end any so called weakness the yanks have, outside of some durability worries.

    • Cool Lester Smooth


    • http://riveravenueblues gary

      Why not trade Phelps and a throw in for Franklyn. Franklyn is a 222 hitter with below average defense. Not sure what everyone sees in him

      • Preston

        It’s almost like they aren’t judging a 22 year old on 412 PAs. He’s hit at every level in the minors. The three projection systems have him with wRC+ of 93, 104 and 100. He doesn’t have to be Andrelton Simmons to have value if he can be a league average hitter.

  • Frank

    ^Totally agree. If they can land Owings, who can play short, that would be a much better option.

    Especially if the cost is a catcher (we have extras).

    Phelps can be very valuable as a swing man or a one innings reliever. His stuff is diminished and becomes fringy as a starter.

    • TheOneWhoKnocks

      I don’t think Phelps for Owings is reasonable from the D’Backs perspective.

      They already are 7 or 8 deep in the rotation, and have indicated that they’d be more likely to shop Digi Gregorius than Owings if they did try to move an infielder.

      I think everyone from Axisa down to the commenters is selling Franklin way short. He’d be a huge get.

      • Tanakapalooza Floozy

        A 90 wRC+ is a huge get?

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          A good defensive 2B having a 90 wRC+ as a 22 year old rookie is a very good thing, not a bad thing.

          I’m not a big Franklin fan either, but let’s not be silly about it.

          • Winter

            He’s not a good defensive 2B, but you’re spot on that 90 wRC+ is excellent for a MI rookie. I’d expect Franklin to be at 100 wRC+ or above by the time his arb years are up.

            • Cool Lester Smooth

              He certainly has the potential to be. He projected as fringe-average at SS.

  • Farewell Mo

    Screw Jack Z and the Mariners.

    They want Phelps, send back Cano and eat $40 million of his contract.

    • I’m One

      $65 million. And send Fraknlin over as well.

      In all seriousness, I don’t know enough about Franklin (although a young cost-controlled infielder is intriguing) to determine if Phelps + is fair value. I get concerned when it’s mentioned that his defense is a bit suspect, even at 2B and that he may have to drop switch hitting. Yes, he’s young, but those seem to be concerns. I need to hear more.

      Definitely like the idea of Owings, although since the M’s and Diamondback’s needs are different, I’d be in favor of doing both (provided Franklin can overcome the concerns above).

  • TWTR

    I think the Mariners could be desperate. Just be patient and I think the Yankees’ leverage will increase.

    • Bryan

      Double edged sword. Mariners will also see the hilarity in our infield and gain back all the leverage.

      • TWTR

        I think the rest of the team balances that out (assuming Jeter and Tex don’t suck), and although I don’t value pitching as much as some, the common wisdom is that pitching is the most valuable commodity.

  • uyf1950

    I don’t think it’s a matter of if the Yankees make a trade but when and I think that will be BEFORE the end of ST.

  • Howie

    Maybe if they throw in Jesus Montero…


    • TWTR

      I would take him back if he is a throw-in. Then I would duct tape his mouth and continue to teach him to play 1B.

      • Howie

        Ha. Yeah could be worse things than taking him back. Maybe we can fix him, who knows.

        • Tanakapalooza Floozy

          If the fix is lipo then sure it’s possible.

      • nyyankfan_7

        Maybe we should duct tape his thumbs down to so he can’t hit the plunger on the PED needle.

        • TWTR

          Then you better have a lot duct tape available because there are a probably a lot of (past) users in MLB (including the Yankees BUC), and even past users like Bonds and McGwire are working in the game. Where’s the outrage? Oh yeah, the only bad guy is A-Rod.

        • Mr. Roth

          If the PEDs help him perform better, I’ll push the plunger down for him. But if he gets caught, I’m denying everything!

    • ALZ

      I’d definitely take him back. The thing though is that I wouldn’t give up Pineda to do so.

  • RM

    Would Phelps and Slade Heathcott be enough for Franklin? I would see if the Mariners are interested. I would rather have Owings but Franklin seems like a .265 20hr 75rbi guy. I do agree with Mike a trade for a middle infielder will happen this spring.

    • stevie

      Pheleps & Slade for a .225 hitting infielder…you are just as b ad as Mike

      • Massapequa Parking

        .225 w a bunch of Ks and so-so defense. Let the Mets have him.

      • RM

        Stevie, It was just a suggestion. If you have one better I am all ears. I do believe Franklin is better then a .225 BA

        • Tanakapalooza Floozy

          Yes! Except for, you know, his .225 batting average.

          • Steve (different one)

            Bernie hit .238 his rookie year. Too bad that scared away everyone who wanted to trade for him, since it is a rule that players never improve from their rookie year.

            • Cool Lester Smooth

              Duh! Everyone knows that!

              It’s well known that a player’s first 412 PA represent the peak of their career.

              Just look at Kyle Seager and Brandon Belt!

            • Mr. Roth

              Nick Franklin’s 27.4 K% is a pretty fightening thing.

      • Pisano

        I agree, you don’t trade a starting/swingman pitcher for a suspect infielder that hits .225, hell they already have one in Nunez, and I’m sure they’re trying to trade him right now.

  • FMB2345

    Personally if we’re trading for a second baseman from the M’s I’d rather take a flyer on Dustin Ackley. Granted he has struggled on offense the last two years but he plays a solid second defensively and Kevin Long might be able to work some magic on the his hitting.

  • RM

    As others have said, Why not Phelps for Ackley and Murphy for Owings. Ackley does play a sound 2B. Two young up the middle infielders not such a bad thing.

    • I’m One

      Takes 2 to tango. Are the M’s willing to give up Ackley? He’s probablu the better choice if you can get him.

  • blake

    Jack Z knows he has to win now….so yea I think he’s a little desperate. I think Phelps for Franklin is pretty fair for both teams….and agree that they should be trying to make that trade and trying to get Didi or preferably Owings from the Dbacks at the same time…..they need infielders…..lots of infielders.

    • Tanakapalooza Floozy

      Depends what you mean by infielders. We have a lot of infielders as things stand now. However, they mostly suck, are major injury/performance risks, or both.

      • TWTR

        Why would he want to add bad infielders?

  • palazzolo

    I’d trade Phelps & Romine if we could get Dustin Ackley and/or Chris Owings. DO NOT trade John Ryan Murphy.

    • CountryClub

      You most likely need to give up Murphy to get Owings. And to me, that would be OK. Owings is the type of player that you give Murphy up for. Two young players with decent upside that fill the other team’s need.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Yeah, I wouldn’t drive Murphy to the airport, but I’d certainly be okay with it.

      • ALZ

        People really need to loosen on Murphy. McCann figures to be the starter for the future, and they still have Cervelli/Romine/Sanchez. They shouldn’t give him away, but really, if you can get someone like Owings I would do that in a heartbeat. Things can change, and McCann could get hurt tomorrow, but trading a minor league catcher is dealing from their depth. SS/2B look to much longer term problems.

  • Dan

    I hope they do two trades, 1 for Owings, and 1 for Franklin. If they do those trades, they would then have adequate infield depth going forward with a possible middle infield combination for years to come (and they’d still need help at 3B and 1B!).

    The only reason I wouldn’t try to do these two trades right now, is because they only really need 1 of those players for this year (although next year they’ll be desperate for IF help again). And because Phelps and Murphy are arguably their 2 best trade chips for teams who are looking to contend right now; it may be wise to save one of them for midseason, where they could still get an young IF of the future, or they could get help in the Pen.

    • Winter

      they only really need 1 of those players for this year

      That’s assuming that Brian Roberts doesn’t get hurt (which will happen) and that Jeter’s legs can hold up for a full year at SS. Besides, better to trade for both now than to wait until midseason when one might no longer be available…

  • DERP

    Does Seattle need an outfielder now that Gutierrez isn’t playing? Would they have any interest in taking Ichiro back if the Yankees pay some of the salary?

  • 461deep

    I would take Jesus back on a reasonable deal. He is still young so should have some potential to improve. Seattle seems to be hard physically and mentally on power hitters. Griffey hit a ton of HRS in the Kingdome then they built the beautiful new spacious post card
    for him. What if he plays 20 years in the Kingdome.
    Playing on a cheapo eBay calculator. Yankee starting 8 averages 34 years of age at the lowest. 3 at 30, 1 at 33, 1 at 36, 2 at 37, 1 at
    39, 1 spare OF 8 1 SP 39 each not counted. Be hard to navigate through 162 games with all these years.

    • mitch

      nostalgia is the only thing keeping Montero’s value alive in the eyes of Yankees fans. He’s been a disaster. I’d take him if Seattle dumped him for nothing, but i wouldn’t give up anything decent.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        We only want him because we think we can get him for nothing.

  • al

    Mariner’s are so desperate,at this point they might even take Vida Nuno.

    • gageagainstthemachine

      Hell…they’d probably take Vida Blue!

  • nycsportzfan

    Damn, scouts seem to be piling in to watch this club lately.

  • nycsportzfan

    Nuny raking against TB, 2-2 run scored and a double so far.

    • nycsportzfan

      Add a sick bunt single for Nuny. Now 3-3. Team Nuny baby!

  • nycsportzfan

    Betances just made Longo his bitch, on 3pitches. Devestating slider got em swinging.

    • nycsportzfan

      single for Solarte off of Grant Balfour. 8-11 this spring.

  • nycsportzfan

    Solarte with yet another hit. Now 8-11. This single was off Grant Balfour.

  • nycsportzfan

    Gardy with the 2run single. The yanks put in work against Balfour.

  • qwerty

    Give them Michael Pineda. There’s no way they’d refuse!!

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      I wouldn’t make that trade.

  • mustang

    1 for Owings and 1 for Franklin seems like a pipe dream. The most likely would be Frankiln and for Phelps I would do it. However the Yankees minor league system sucks, they can’t develop anyone and nobody wants their prospects so it doesn’t already matter. ;)

    • mustang

      Plus I would LOVE the chance to trade for Frankiln then watch him somehow out produce Cano.

      Super pipe dream yes, but it would bring me almost championship winning type joy.

  • Eselquetodolosabe

    Let’s not rush to trade, or de-value a starting, MLB pitcher (granted, a #5), for a .225 hitter with shakey defense. “Oh, he projects to be better than that”. B.S., he hit .225 last year with so-so defense. If the M’s trade him, then hey, you’d be selling low on him. MLB starters don’t grow on trees….. Or do they ?! I’m not a huge “phelpsie” fan, but com’on. He’s gotta be plenty enough for a .225 hitter with so-so defense. When you sell, you get market – that’s it.

    • mustang


    • Winter

      Franklin hit .225 as a 22-year-old rookie. 99.999% every 22-year-olds are not going to be Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. It takes time for them to mature into a productive hitter. From Baseball Prospectus:

      Offensively, Franklin stands out for his ability to make consistent hard contact and drive the ball to all fields. He has a line-drive swing that will max out with 15-18 home runs a year, but should also generate 30-plus doubles at his peak. Franklin’s swing is simple and compact from the left side, allowing him to work counts and hit for a high average. From the right side, Franklin’s swing has a tendency to get long, adding more miss to his game and resulting in less punch. Franklin projects as an above average to plus hitter with good power and the ability to steal 10-15 bases a year thanks to average speed and decent baserunning instincts. Franklin will need time to adjust to major-league pitching but once he settles in he should be a solid everyday option for the Mariners.

      When a player is as young as Franklin, you have to take into account projections, because his performance last year is just not indicative of what his performance will be once he matures and adjusts to major league pitching. To borrow a comparison from an earlier comment: Bernie Williams hit .238 in his rookie year, when he was… (wait for it)… 22. A player’s performance at that age, while not meaningless, needs to be considered alongside with scouting reports and projections. Even if Franklin repeats his 2013 performance for a couple years, a 90 wRC+ middle infielder is still quite valuable, given how scarce productive bats are at SS and 2B (especially 2B, right now). Franklin is under team control until 2020, I would give up Phelps for 2-3 years of 90 wRC+ and 3-4 years of the player described in the Baseball Prospectus scouting report in a heartbeat.

      • BC-203

        Completely agree. To me, this is really just a matter of what we need more. While I agree it is harder to come across pitching, it’s not like Phelps projects to be more than a #5 starter (EVER) on the Yankees. It would be one thing if Phelps was the clear favorite for that role and we were losing considerable depth by trading him — I don’t see that. I see a plethora of #5 options and nobody really for 2B/SS after 2014. I’d rather add to that competition that add another bullpen arm that won’t be taking the 8th/9th.

        • Eselquetodolosabe

          Ian Kennedy says hello.

          • Cool Lester Smooth

            What does Phelps have to do with IPK?

            I hope you aren’t saying that their talents are of a similar caliber, because stupid people make me sad.

            • Eselquetodolosabe

              Really ? Grow-up dude. Revisit IPK. NY was down on IPK, and traded him with un-equal return (in hind-sight). IPK didn’t, and doesn’t have “lights-out” stuff, so in that respect, there’s some comparability. IPK has become a “pitcher”. Phelps might do the same. Think of a player / prospect as an asset; regardless of Franklin’s potential, his “actual” value is NOT commensurate to the speculative. Might that change and align mutually ? Maybe…. But which way ? Will speculation follow actual ? Or vice-versa ?

              • Winter

                Kennedy was ranked the 45th best prospect in the MLB by Baseball America in 2008, and the 16th best pitcher. Phelps was never ranked close to that high. Phelps is a solid 4-5, Kennedy was projected for the top of the rotation.

                • Esquetodolosabe

                  IPK projected top of rotation ? Absolutely not. What did we get for IPK ? NY became impatient with IPK and sold low, or traded him at low value for need. Let’s not revise IPK history, please.

                  • Cool Lester Smooth

                    We got Curtis fucking Granderson for IPK.

                    Do you not understand how valuable 4 cost-controlled years of a 29 year old CF is?

                    Also, IPK absolutely projected as a 2/3 at his peak value. The most optimistic Phelps projection I’ve ever read had him as a decent 4, if everything broke right.

                    • Giancarlo Murphy

                      Well, we got Grandy for IPK, Austin Jackson, and a ginger LOOGY.

                      And Franklin’s 23 years old.

                      I basically agree with your premise that Franklin is more projectable and has a higher ceiling but there’s no need to stretch the truth.

                    • Cool Lester Smooth

                      The point is that we didn’t receive a poor return on him. Kennedy was a major piece in the trade. He and Edwin Jackson were what the D-Backs received for sending Scherzer and Schlereth to Detroit.

                      The trade doesn’t happen without Kennedy.

              • Cool Lester Smooth


                A) Grandy was absolutely an equal return for IPK and his resume of 2 mediocre seasons, one good season and one shitty season, all in the NL West. He’s been exactly average over the past 4 years.

                B) Franklin is worth more than Phelps right now.
                27 year old pitchers who still haven’t seized a spot in the rotation going into their third year are a lot less valuable than you seem to think they are.
                22 year old 2Bs who produced a 90 wRC+ in their first stint in the MLB are a lot more valuable than you think they are.

                In fact, Franklin absolutely trounced Phelps in rWAR in 2013.

                If we can get Franklin for a package centered around Phelps, there isn’t an argument to be made against it.

      • Eselquetodolosabe

        That Bernie comparison is relevant, and irrelevant at the same time. What would’ve happened if we’d traded Bernie right after his rookie season ? Exactly. It seems that positive projections are only valid for other teams young players. It’s almost pathological the level of devaluing of our prospects. It seems that we never have enough to trade for anyone. I don’t remember what we got back from the Ian Kennedy trade, but I don’t think we won that trade. Phelps reminds me of Kennedy, somewhat.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          Phelps is nowhere near Ian Kennedy. If we get Franklin for Phelps+, it’s a massive steal for us.

          But yeah, if the Yanks had tried to trade Bernie after that season the most they would have gotten is a No. 5 starter who might be better off in the pen.

          You know, someone like David Phelps.

        • Winter

          David Phelps is 27. He isn’t a prospect any more.

  • Winter

    For everyone complaining about Franklin’s performance in 2013… here’s a little comparison for you:

    Player A is a second baseman, drafted in the first round out of college. Scouts had questions about his defense — particularly his range. His hit tool was universally praised by scouts, though: He profiled as a line drive hitter with good contact skills and moderate power. He was called up at age 24 and hit .239 in 43 games, good for a wRC+ of 86.

    Player B is also a second baseman, also drafted in the first round (but out of high school). Scouts also questioned his defense — again, his range was a concern. Like Player A, he offense unanimously praised, and he profiled as a solid contact line-drive hitter with moderate power. He debuted at age 22 and hit .225 in 102 games, good for a wRC+ of 90.

    As you may be able to guess, Player B is Nick Franklin (scouting report). Player A is Chase Utley (scouting report). Now, I’m not saying Franklin is going to be Chase Utley. That’s far too lofty a claim to make. What I am saying is that a player’s performance in their rookie year says little about the player they’re going to become. Here is a player who profiles very similarly to Franklin and had a very similar start to their MLB career who went on to have a borderline Hall of Fame MLB career. At Franklin’s age, his scouting report is more important than his stats facing MLB pitching for the first time.

  • Giancarlo Murphy

    It’s only fitting that the Yankees trade Phelps to the Mariners for someone named Buhner.