Maikel Franco has a new home. He's headed to the AL, joining the Kansas City Royals on a one-year deal worth $3 million, according to Jon Heyman.
It was always likely that Franco would find another opportunity to start. It was also likely that it was going to come with a rebuilding club like K.C.
Franco hit .249/.302/.431 in six years with the Phillies, averaging 22 homers and 72 RBI in his four full seasons. He showed major promise in 2015 when he hit .280 with an .840 OPS but his offense never developed beyond the occasional longball.
Franco has always had elite contact skills. For a guy who makes so many outs, he barely strikes out. Since 2016, he has struck out at a lower rate than 83 percent of qualifying major-leaguers.
Teams look at that — the Phillies, for years, looked at that — with hopes that if Franco could just improve the quality of his contact, he could be a solid everyday third baseman. He's been unable to do so, grounding the ball to the left side or popping up in the infield far too frequently. Franco in 2019 had, by far, the highest infield fly rate of any major-leaguer with at least 400 plate appearances at 24.1 percent. Next was Brandon Drury at 20.0 percent.
In Kansas City, the 27-year-old Franco will have the inside track to the everyday job at the hot corner, with Hunter Dozier reportedly moving to right field.
As for the Phillies, they'll move on to some mix of Scott Kingery, Jean Segura and perhaps Alec Bohm at third base in 2020. Josh Donaldson is the top available free agent but could get as many as four years, which makes him an imperfect fit.