It’s remained fairly obvious that second base is a trouble point for the Orioles. Jonathan Schoop has contributed the most innings out of a hastily constructed platoon with Ryan Flaherty, and when needed, Steve Lombardozzi and Jemile Weeks.
While he has 8 homers on the year so far, and has provided league average defense (with the rest of the platoon), an inability to get on base and consistently hit for average leaves a huge hole in the middle of the infield.
As of Tuesday:
Most higher level sabermetric stats point to some of the lowest amount of runs created (about 32) and WAR (lower than 1) in the majors. Projections for the rest of the year show little promise as well, with both FanGraphs projections showing both Flaherty and Schoop finishing with around a .220 average and not much better on base percentage.
While it’s clear Flaherty will remain as a utility infielder for the foreseeable future, the Orioles could make a very smart upgrade at second base and allow Schoop to develop his abilities at Norfolk.
Nick Franklin, a middle infield prospect with the Seattle Mariners organization, is backed up in a positional battle in Seattle with, Robinson Cano obviously taking the second base position and other young prospect Brad Miller doing the rounds at shortstop.
This season Franklin served as a supersub on the team in two small trips to the majors, spending most of his time at AAA Tacoma, batting above .290/.400/.480 for most of the season thus far and providing a solid defense for the Rainiers. His infield flexibility also allows for the possibility we do not resign J.J. Hardy next year, and for Manny Machado to take the reigns over at shortstop at some point in time.
This move obviously would cost a decent amount to a Seattle ballclub vying for the second wildcard position in a loaded AL West. The two things they need most are pitching depth and outfield help, two areas of which the Orioles have depth.
While it’s not likely Duquette would put Tillman, Jimenez, Gausman or Norris out west, Gonzalez and Chen have workable contracts and would provide the M’s with a capable starter behind their already solid rotation.
Beyond that, maybe slightly above replacement level outfield/utility players Steve Pearce/Delmon Young, and maybe a bullpen arm (Matusz, whoever), would make the deal more lucrative, and bring a better infield to Camden Yards.
Orioles: Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Pearce
Mariners: Nick Franklin