Seattle Mariners DH/RF Corey Hart may be headed for the disabled list with a sore hamstring. If that occurs, the club will have a few options to replace the veteran on the 25-man roster. The obvious one is Nick Franklin, who has played a few innings in the outfield in Triple-A Tacoma lately, but that decision is not as cut and dry and it would be in normal scenarios.
Franklin was pulled from a game on the Rainiers recent road trip after making a mental mistake in the field, then didn’t start the following day. He then played right field, but now is considered day-to-day with a minor back injury. If he’s fine, he’ll be the call-up, and likely get time in the outfield, but can also spell Brad Miller at shortstop, a move that may have been coming soon, anyway.
There are other options, however, including Logan Morrison, but it doesn’t appear Morrison will be able to avoid a rehab stint, which means he’s not going to be the immediate choice to replace Hart. Jesus Montero could also garner some consideration, and if Franklin is the immediate move, Montero may be on the short list if the M’s make the move with Miller in the coming days.
The bigger question beyond the initial roster move is who Lloyd McClendon chooses to bat cleanup for this team in Hart’s absence. Hart has been scuffling fierce since the first three weeks of the season, so his injury may actually help the team in the short term. Ultimately Hart should be productive enough to warrant time in the lineup. Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager are the obvious candidates, and the better bet is on the switch-hitting Smoak, and it’s probably the right choice, considering the team’s lack of options.
This conversation also warrants the mentioning of Kendrys Morales, who remains a free agent and is all but certain to sign after the draft that takes place June 5-7. At that point Morales will not be tied to draft-pick compensation, but that also means the Mariners will not receive a pick if Morales signs with another team. That pick, however, would have become the sacrifice for signing Robinson Cano. As of now, the M’s are set to lose their second-round pick.
Franklin should be able to replace what Hart was giving the club offensively, even if he struggles, and will provide more value in the field and on the bases. Fact is, however, a healthy Hart or not, this team needs to make at least one move for a bat or the efforts of Cano, and to a lesser extent Michael Saunders and James Jones ahead of him, will go for naught.