Yesterday, the Royals signed third baseman Maikel Franco to a one year, $2.95 million contract with $1 million in incentives on the heels of his non-tender from the Phillies earlier this month. Franco looks to take over at third base, moving incumbent third baseman Hunter Dozier to right field and pushing the positionally flexible Whit Merrifield to the starting center fielder role with Nicky Lopez occupying second base. This also means that Jorge Soler, who was mainly a DH but has spent some time in right field throughout his time in Kansas City, will play almost exclusively in the DH role in 2020.
The consensus on Franco is that he has the tools for success but has failed to truly demonstrate them at the Major League level. While Franco has posted some serviceable seasons, two of his last three seasons have featured negative-value production, and the Phillies decided for this reason that it was time to move on. In a season where expectations aren’t particularly high for the Royals, it makes sense, then, to bring Franco on in hopes that he finds more success. Hoping for better production from Franco, the Royals might look to extend him as they look to turn a corner into contention, or trade him for more future value. At just 27, it’s reasonable to expect that Franco hasn’t lost any physical edge and is still capable of finding his stride in some capacity.
One potential option for the Royals with two third basemen on the roster now is to seek a trade of Hunter Dozier, who saw a good deal of success in his second Major League season and still has four years of team control. While Dozier was a liability at third base defensively last season, he had a strong offensive season and could net a considerable return with so many years of control at a cheap price for a potential trade suitor to take on. Regardless, Franco looks to get the starting third base job in Kansas City next season, and if nothing else, the deal gives the Royals more flexibility at a manageable cost.