The Phillies have optioned third baseman Maikel Franco to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the team announced on Sunday. According to comments given by manager Gabe Kapler, the decision was precipitated by the “abundance of outfielders” on the active roster, as well as Scott Kingery’s move to third base and the general feeling that Franco doesn’t “profile well as a bench player.”
Franco, 26, isn’t exactly having a banner year for the club. Through Saturday’s 3-2 win over the White Sox, he’s batting just .231/.296/.405 with 15 home runs, a .702 OPS, and -0.1 fWAR through 368 plate appearances, nearing some of the career-worst numbers he produced in 2017. Still, it’s a somewhat surprising move given Franco’s relative stability at the hot corner over the last several years. Whether or not the Phillies will find some use for the infielder before the end of the season remains unclear, though given their current position in the Wild Card race and Kapler’s sentiments about Franco’s abilities as a utility player, it seems unlikely.
In a corresponding move, infielder Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day injured list (hip flexor tightness) and will assume Franco’s spot on the roster. The 29-year-old utility man slashed an impressive .294/.399/.596 during his time with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season, but hasn’t shown much life at the plate in the majors. He currently holds a combined .234/.330/.455 batting line with four home runs, two stolen bases, and a .784 OPS across 88 PA for the 2019 Indians and Phillies.