The Orioles finally added third baseman Maikel Franco to their roster Tuesday afternoon as the long-rumored deal finally came to fruition.
Franco will reportedly earn $800,000, with incentives to bump it up to $1 million along the way, according to Jon Heyman.
Franco spent the first six seasons of his big league career with the Philadelphia Phillies before his one-year stop in Kansas City in 2020. The 28-year-old has a reputation as a capable major league hitter, though he has been very up and down in his career. His glove has a poorer reputation, though according to the O's he turned 17 double plays as a third baseman in 2020, tied for the most in the American League.
The Orioles will have to weigh how much playing time he gets compared to incumbent Rio Ruiz, who has a stronger glove but has yet to put it all together at the plate in Baltimore. Team defense will become even more important for the Orioles as the organization continues to promote its young wave of pitchers to the big leagues.
The bat is where Franco can really contribute - and perhaps prove himself as a worthy trade chip at this year's deadline, if he has a hot start to his year. Franco has never really lived up to the potential he showed as a 22-year old in Philadelphia when he had an .840 OPS, 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 80 games.
But despite his inconsistencies, Franco still has the potential to do some damage in the friendly confines of Camden Yards. He hit 25 and 24 home runs, respectively, in the two seasons in which he has played at least 150 games. His swing could end up pairing nicely with Camden Yards' dimensions, if he gets the playing time to prove it.
Ultimately, this is a low-risk move that has a moderate ceiling, and it's the exact type of chance the Orioles should be taking. Franco is coming to Baltimore on the cheap, but he has the chance to make an impact in the lineup and potentially be flipped for prospects in July. That's a win-win for a team still in midst of a long term rebuild.