On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays designated utilityman Nick Franklin for assignment, clearing the way for Daniel Robertson to take a bench spot on the Opening Day roster.

The primary reason for the move is a self-evident one: Franklin didn’t fit the roster. He’s a nominal switch-hitter whose right-handed swing deficiencies leave him useless against left-handed pitching. Factor in how Franklin has no minor-league options remaining, and how the Rays wanted a better defender backing up current shortstop Tim Beckham (Franklin has a substandard arm), and this was inevitable -- even though Franklin produced in 60 games last season, batting .270/.328/.443.

The move is somewhat surprising, as Franklin turned in quite the spring, hitting .362/.434/.532 with two home runs and four stolen bases in 47 at-bats. Robertson might be a better defensive fit for the team, but he delivered nowhere near the offensive production in the Grapefruit League, posting a .635 OPS in 56 at-bats.

Odds are the Rays will lose Franklin in the coming days -- either via waiver claims or a small trade. Whatever the vehicle, it’ll make the David Price trade at the 2014 deadline look worse.

In that deal, the Rays received Franklin, left-handed starter Drew Smyly, and shortstop prospect Willy Adames. Smyly has since been traded, ending his Rays career after 49 starts of 101 ERA+ ball -- the package the Rays received for him included fourth-outfielder type Mallex Smith, potential no. 5 starter Ryan Yarbrough, and lottery-ticket infielder Carlos Vargas. Overall, not the kind of payout you want in exchange for 1 1/2 seasons of your ace.

Between Franklin’s departure and the so-so return on Smyly, all the pressure to salvage the Price deal is now on Adames -- who, at the time, was the deal’s least known quantity. Adames has since developed into Tampa Bay’s No. 1 prospect, and last season he hit .274/.372/.420 with a career-high 12 home runs in Double-A Montgomery. Most scout-y types project him to turn into an above-average hitter -- albeit one with some defensive question marks.

Of course, even if Adames does blossom into an All-Star-caliber shortstop, the Rays will have missed significantly on Franklin -- whom they once deemed the “next Ben Zobrist”:


For Franklin’s sake, here’s hoping he lands with a team that doesn’t burden him with unrealistic comparisons -- oh, and one that’s located in an Uber-friendly market.