Reds To Sign Jeff Francis, Thomas Neal

4:38pm: The Reds have also signed Thomas Neal, the outfielder tweeted himself. Neal, 26, spent the 2013 season in the Cubs and Yankees organizations. He batted .325/.391/.411 in 297 Triple-A plate appearances and collected two hits and a walk in 17 Major League PAs. Neal is represented by Jeff Berry of CAA Sports.

3:08pm: The Reds have agreed to a minor league deal with southpaw Jeff Francis, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Francis is represented by Frontline Athlete Management. His deal includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

This will be Francis' second stint with the Reds, as he also inked a minor league pact with Cincinnati prior to the 2012 season. Francis exercised an opt-out clause in June that year and has spent the past season-and-a-half with the Rockies — the team that originally selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2002 draft. In that time, Francis has pitched to a 5.84 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate.

Francis is the second starter with notable big league experience that the Reds have brought in on a minor league deal this offseason. Cincinnati also inked right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training.



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