Baltimore Orioles Interested in “Heating Up” Maikel Franco Market
Maikel Franco has drawn interest from the Orioles, among other teams
MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman has linked the Baltimore Orioles to infielder Maikel Franco. According to Heyman’s report, the Orioles are “considering” signing the seven-year veteran.
Heyman had previously reported that Franco’s market was “heating up” as he remains one of the best position players still left in free agency. In 2020, Franco played in all 60 games of the truncated regular season for the Kansas City Royals, recording an above-league-average 106 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) over that span.
According to Spotrac, Franco earned $2.95M with Kansas City last season. However, the Royals non-tendered him this offseason. It was the second time in two seasons that Franco had been non-tendered, previously by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Maikel Franco would be a significant upgrade over Renato Nunez, who the Orioles designated for assignment last November. According to FanGraphs, in 2020, Nunez posted a career-high 29.6% strikeout rate, nearly doubling the 15.6% that Franco held last season. Nunez and Franco both play primarily corner infield positions, at which Franco is the superior defender. Last season, Franco recorded a +1.3 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) at third base versus Nunez’s -1.5 total.
With the Orioles, Franco would likely become the team’s primary third baseman upon signing, bumping Rio Ruiz out of the starting lineup. Last season, Ruiz slashed .222/.286/.427 in 54 games for Baltimore.