The 2017 season is two days old, but Brewers general manager David Stearns felt it's been too long since his last waiver claim.
The Brewers announced today they're adding another infielder to the 40-man roster, claiming former Tampa Bay Ray Nick Franklin.
INF/OF Nick Franklin claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay and expected to report on Friday. RHP Michael Blazek designated for assignment.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 5, 2017
Franklin began his big league career with Seattle in 2012, but was sent to Tampa Bay as part of the three-team trade deadline deal that sent David Price to Detroit. In three seasons with the Rays, Franklin hit just .227/.284/.388, but that line is a little misleading.
A slow-developing prospect, Franklin finally broke out in a way last season, hitting .270/.328/.443 in 60 games last year with a .331 wOBA and 111 OPS+. He's also a little prone to the strikeout, whiffing in 27.9% of his career plate appearances. Looks like he'll fit in just fine with the rest of the Brewers.
Franklin can play multiple different positions, having appeared at 1B, 2B, SS, LF and RF for the Rays last season. His defensive metrics aren't great, but he hasn't really played enough for those numbers to mean a whole lot.
Basically, you're looking at Scooter Gennett with more true versatility, as opposed to the forced versatility the Brewers were trying this spring by trying Gennett positions other than second base. Like Gennett, Franklin was the victim of a roster crunch in Tampa, and he was out of options, forcing the Rays to DFA him last weekend. The main difference between the two is Franklin is technically a switch hitter, although his splits indicate he probably shouldn’t be used against left-handed pitchers (again, much like Gennett).
Speaking of DFAs, Blazek is removed from the 40-man roster after an extremely disappointing 2016 season and a demotion this spring that had him very upset. Blazek didn’t perform well during spring training, but blamed the poor outings on the organization, saying he was told to focus on throwing fastballs.
The way the Brewers are phrasing the announcement, it sounds like Franklin will be on the 25-man roster. They might wait until that day to make the corresponding roster move, but it might be a good bet that the team might ditch the extra reliever they've been carrying on the roster to this point to make room.
Considering Brent Suter just got here and pitched well in his first outing, a worse-performing option might be sent out. Jhan Marinez might want to start getting worried.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs