The Philadelphia Phillies are in baseball hell right now. They’re 20 games behind in the division race and are on pace to lose 109 games this season, which would be the most losses by a Phillies team since 1942. The only other team on pace to lose 100 games this year is San Francisco. To make matters worse, practically the entire team has regressed. Needless to say, Philadelphia will definitely be deadline sellers – which was the plan all along and the main reason why they added some veteran players on short-term deals.
However, it now looks like their young players could be on the block too. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has reported that third baseman Maikel Franco is “more than available.” This report comes as a big surprise given that Franco was seen as a potential building block for the franchise and is only 24.
But if Philadelphia sold now, it would be a huge mistake. Much like the rest of the Phillies roster, Franco has had a rough season. He has a slash line of just .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs and his BABIP has taken a nosedive, dropping from .271 last season to .226 in 2017, due much in part to his ground ball rate rising by five percentage points. He has also been a liability on defense, which has led to an ugly -10.9 UZR/150.
But not all things are bad for Franco this season. He has shown more place discipline, which has led to a lower strikeout rate and an improved walk rate. He is also swinging less on pitches inside and outside of the strike zone and making more contact.
That being said, due to his poor metrics, Franco doesn’t have a whole lot of value, so why sell low? Franco is young and still has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. There is no pressure on Philadelphia to win now and the only other high-end prospect the Phillies have at third base is Cole Strobbe, who is nowhere near ready for the big leagues. Franco becomes arbitration eligible after this season, which means the Phillies control him until 2022. His best days are still ahead of him and at the moment, his ceiling is higher than anyone they would likely acquire.
Instead, the Phillies best option is to look into why he is struggling and try to coach through the issue, whether it is working on his mechanics when he swings or focusing on improving his glove.
Baseball is a game of patience and sometimes, teams can make knee-jerk reactions. But more often than not, being patient can pay dividends.