Nationals release veteran 3B Maikel Franco on his 30th birthday

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 26: Maikel Franco #7 of the Washington Nationals waits in the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on July 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Maikel Franco has had better birthdays.. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The Washington Nationals, owners of MLB's worst record, even found a way to release players badly.

The team announced Friday that it is unconditionally releasing veteran third baseman Maikel Franco. That would not be especially noteworthy, except for the fact that Friday is also Franco's 30th birthday.

Which makes things awkward.

MLB teams aren't going to care much about how happy their players' birthday parties are, but the situation is another sad moment in a season full of them for the Nationals.

Franco joined Washington on a minor league contract last offseason, his fifth team in three years, and soon took over the starting third base position. Like most members of the Nationals who are not currently playing for the San Diego Padres, he didn't exactly set the world on fire, hitting .229/.255/.342 with nine homers in 103 games.

Franco was a cheap veteran option for a Nationals team few expected to contend this year, so it's not like his struggles should have been a surprise. With fellow cheap veteran Ildemaro Vargas performing much better at the plate (.317/.354/.450), Franco's days on the roster were numbered.

The 42-83 Nationals currently hold the worst record in MLB as they fully hurtle into a rebuild after trading stars Juan Soto and Josh Bell at the trade deadline. Third base remains one of the positions they have to figure out for the future. Brady House, the 11th overall pick of the 2021 MLB draft, could be the eventual answer there, but he's also likely years away from the majors.