Ben Francisco Rumors

Quick Hits: Francisco, Manny, Rays, Athletics

On this date two years ago, the Dodgers signed Ronald Belisario as a minor league free agent after he had spent the previous eight years in the Marlins' and Pirates' systems. Belisario made the team's Opening Day roster in 2009 and has pitched to a 3.36 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and a 58.5% ground ball rate in 126 innings since. 

Here are Sunday's links…

Phillies Avoid Arbitration With Ben Francisco

The Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $1.175MM deal with Ben Francisco, tweets Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer.  The 29-year-old outfielder is represented by John Boggs.

This offseason was Francisco's very first as an arbitration eligible player.  In 2010, Francisco turned in a .268/.327/.441 slash line with six homers in 197 plate appearances.  Philadelphia acquired the right-handed batter from Cleveland in the deal that brought them Cliff Lee in 2009.  To keep up with the status of every arbitration eligible player, bookmark our handy Arb Tracker.

Paul Hagen of The Philadelphia Daily News has the breakdown of the incentives in Francisco's contract.

Possible Platoon Partners For Domonic Brown

Jayson Werth is days away from free agency, so if the Phillies intend to re-sign their right fielder, they'll have to bid directly against other interested teams. There's a real chance Werth signs elsewhere this winter, so the Phillies are thinking ahead. Manager Charlie Manuel has acknowledged that he may pair Domonic Brown up with a more experienced player who can handle southpaws and play right field.

Brown, just 23, had no trouble hitting minor league pitching this year (.327/.391/.589 line) but he bats from the left side and the Phillies could ease him into the big leagues by limiting his exposure to left-handed pitching. Here are eight outfielders the Phillies may consider as platoon partners for Brown:

  • Jeff Francoeur, 26 years old, non-tender candidate – Frenchy has his faults, but the 26-year-old can handle lefties. He has a .299/.343/.481 line against them in his career.
  • Matt Diaz, 32 years old, non-tender candidate – Diaz has a .335/.373/.533 line against lefties in his career.
  • Juan Rivera, 32 years old, trade candidate – The Angels will have to part with an outfielder if they sign Werth or Carl Crawford. Rivera, who spent most of the 2010 season in left field, has a career .288/.333/.499 line against lefties.
  • Jose Guillen, 34 years old, free agent – He struggled against lefties this year, but boasts a .270/.327/.460 line against them in his career.
  • Xavier Nady, 31 years old, free agent – Nady, who struggled through the 2010 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, has a .297/.367/.451 line against lefties in his career.
  • Andruw Jones, 33, free agent – Jones would likely be able to find more playing time elsewhere, so he's not a natural fit in Philly, but his career (.261/.361/.501) and 2010 (.256/.373/.558) numbers against left-handers must have the Phillies salivating.
  • Milton Bradley, 32, trade candidate – Again, Bradley seems like an unlikely target for the Phillies, but he has a .300/.382/.488 line against left-handers in his career and could be available.
  • Willie Bloomquist, 32, free agent – He has a .272/.334/.366 line against lefties in his career – not much pop, but he's far more versatile than the players above. Bloomquist played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions this year, so Manuel could use him elsewhere if Brown wins the job outright.
  • Austin Kearns, 30, free agent – Kearns has a career .261/.383/.416 line against lefties and may have trouble finding an everyday job.
  • Ben Francisco, 29, on the Phillies – Francisco has a .267/.347/.460 career line against left-handers.

Diaz and Francoeur handle lefties well and can play right field, so they would be good fits for the Phils if they are indeed non-tendered. Rivera, Nady, Bloomquist and Kearns would also be legitimate options and none of the players listed figure to cost more than a few million on a one-year deal, so the Phillies are well-positioned to recover if Werth leaves and they consider alternatives to Francisco. Their biggest challenge will be helping Brown improve upon the .210/.257/.355 line he posted in 70 plate appearances this summer.

Phillies Face Multiple Decisions In Offseason

With their 2010 season officially in the books,'s Todd Zolecki examined the Phillies' decisions regarding both free agency and arbitration this offseason. Here are some highlights:

  • The Phillies and Jayson Werth will both say they have interest in working something out, and while that's probably true, Zolecki agrees with the common belief that Werth will be playing elsewhere in 2011. The Phillies already have $145MM committed to 16 players in 2011, and Werth's probable $15MM+ salary will be too much to add on.
  • J.C. Romero's option will probably be declined due to the left-hander's injury problems and control issues (7.1 BB/9 the past two seasons).
  • Jose Contreras could be this season's Chan Ho Park. Both pitched well out of the Philadelphia bullpen, but in doing so significantly raised their stock. Contreras could be in line for more money than Philadelphia wants to offer. Zolecki does note that Contreras' best friend and fellow Cuban, Danys Baez, is under contract for 2011, so that may help sway Contreras.
  • Chad Durbin is 50-50 on whether or not he'd take less money than he could get on the open market to stay with the Phils. As Zolecki points out, this could be Durbin's only chance to secure a decent multiyear deal.
  • Jamie Moyer, Mike Sweeney, and Greg Dobbs are all unlikely to be brought back.
  • Ben Francisco will almost certainly be tendered a contract, and could platoon with Domonic Brown. Kyle Kendrick is due a raise and could be non-tendered and then re-signed at a more affordable price.

Phillies Acquire Lee, Francisco

6:05pm: After a little confusion, the deal is now official, according to a press release. The Phils add an ace and a right-handed bat, and the Indians receive four top rebuilding pieces. Ed Price at AOL Fanhouse says that Donald, Marson and Carrasco will all report to AAA Columbus and Knapp to A Lake County.

1:18pm:'s Anthony Castrovince says Lee and Francisco haven't been told anything official yet, but they've read the reports. 

12:59pm: Rosenthal reports that the deal would not include any cash. He calls the trade, which isn't yet official, a "coup" for both sides. 

12:42pm: Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report that the sides have agreed to a deal that sends Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Philly for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. The teams still have to examine medical records for the deal to go through.

12:38pm:'s Todd Zolecki hears that Ben Francisco would also come to Philly in the possible deal. He'd fit the team's need for a right-handed hitting outfielder.

12:29pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the two sides are "very close" to completing a deal.

12:03pm: Gordon Edes and Tim Brown of Yahoo report that the Phillies appear to be "on the verge" of acquiring Cliff Lee from the Indians for Carrasco, Knapp and at least two of Donald, Marson and Michael Taylor.

Ken Rosenthal says the clubs are in discussions for Lee "and possibly another player."  Knapp, Carrasco, Donald, and Marson would be involved.  He wonders if the Indians might send some cash to secure a better prospect package.

11:36am: Rob Maaddi of the AP (via the Miami Herald) hears that the Phils offered the Indians a package of players for Lee, but didn't include Kyle Drabek in the proposal.

11:09am: Rosenthal and Morosi report that the Phillies are discussing a trade for Cliff Lee and possibly another player that would send Knapp, Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson to Cleveland.

10:54am:'s Buster Olney hears that the Phils may try to acquire George Sherrill If they can't trade for Halladay or Lee.

10:52am: Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that Jason Knapp is the centerpiece of the Phillies' offer for Lee. The Phils, who are also involved in talks for Jarrod Washburn, would also deal other pieces to the Indians.

FOX also reports that the Dodgers were planning on making a "hard push" for Lee today.

10:34am:'s Jayson Stark notes that three Indians scouts were in Lehigh Valley to watch the Phillies' Triple A team this morning. As we noted earlier, Carlos Carrasco was scratched from today's start and Stark says it was without explanation. Stark hears from a source close to the Indians who denies that the team is close to making a major move.

The Phillies and Indians have been involved in discussions, but haven't yet exchanged medical reports on players. One possible package would send Carrasco, a top position player, Jason Knapp and Trevor May to the Indians for Lee. The Phils tell other teams they believe they can deal for Lee without giving up Kyle Drabek or Dominic Brown.

Royals And Indians Not Talking Teahen

MONDAY: Royals GM Dayton Moore emphatically denied the rumor, calling it a "flat-out lie."  OK then.

SUNDAY: Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes some surprising news, as it seems the Indians and Royals are discussing a swap of Mark Teahen for an outfielder. It’s not often you see two teams in the same division make a trade, but both sides seem to have interest.

Dutton lists the three potential targets as Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco, and minor leaguer Trevor Crowe. All three are capable of playing center field, which would allow the Royals to move David DeJesus to left field on a full-time basis.

Teahen would likely return to his natural position, third base, after spending the past two seasons in the outfield where he has struggled offensively. Teahen’s best season at the Major League level came as a third baseman in 2006, when he hit .290/.357/.517 in 439 plate appearances. The Indians are looking for a replacement at third base, with Andy Marte having failed to live up to expectations and Casey Blake’s departure.

Crowe could potentially be the best fit. He’s a swtich-hitter who posted a .381 OBP between Class-AA and Class-AAA this season, and will turn 24 in November. The Royals could certainly use a strong OBP player in their lineup. Teahen would be a very affordable solution for Cleveland, as he’s arbitration-eligible this season but will likely be in the $3MM range for 2009.

Ocker On Blake, Marte, Dellucci, Borowski And Lee

Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal does some speculating on the Indians’ third base, left field, and closer situations.

  • Casey Blake’s contract expires at the end of the season, and at age 35, Ocker doesn’t believe that Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro will re-up for him.  Ocker points to two reasons why Andy Marte probably won’t work out as the in-house solution to Blake’s potential absence: he could be lost on waivers if he doesn’t make the team as a utility man coming out of Spring Training, and he shows no sign of figuring things out and becoming an impact player.  Check out his Dominican Winter League performance if you need further proof that the 24 year-old Marte is regressing: .198/.213/.260 with seven errors.  Small sample size?  Yes, but wowza!
  • Who from the available 2009 free agent list could be had to man third base?  Could Asdrubal Cabrera be shifted to shortstop, and Jhonny Peralta moved to third?  If so, who could move in to play second in place of Cabrera?
  • Ocker also speculates that Shapiro will allow Jason Michaels of the Michaels/David Dellucci platoon walk unless their productivity rises substantially.  Michaels is slated to make $2.15MM this season, and the club has an option for $2.6MM in 2009.  What about Ben Francisco?  Could he be an option to take over for Michaels in the platoon?
  • This could also be Joe Borowski’s last year as closer in Cleveland, Ocker says.  Borowski will be 37 in 2009, and it has long been speculated that Borowski is on the cusp of losing his job.  Ocker points out that it is always tough to find a closer on the free agent market, but remarks that it’s "questionable" that the role could be filled in-house.  I still don’t understand the reluctance to place Rafael Betancourt in the role.  Anyone?
  • Finally, Ocker wonders how Cliff Lee would handle losing the number five slot in the rotation to Aaron Laffey or Jeremy Sowers.  Relying on Lee’s response to last year’s demotion — which was one of surprise at a player with a multi-year contract being sent to the minors ($3.75MM this year) — Ocker says that Lee has a sense of entitlement regarding the number five slot.  Ocker says that is "fine as long as he holds up his end of the bargain."

Posted by Matt Birt

Rosenthal’s Latest Videos: Teixeira, Dye, Garland

Ken Rosenthal has a couple of recent videos up at FOXSports.  Check ’em out.  Some highlights:

  • The Mark Teixeira talks are at a standstill; the Braves and Angels are reluctant to improve their offers.  The Dodgers are said to be out of the picture.  Daniels, Schuerholz, Stoneman – which one blinks first?  I’ll say Daniels; he’ll go with Atlanta’s best offer.
  • Jermaine Dye is Plan B for the Angels, but as you know the Red Sox still have interest.
  • Jon Garland can be had, but Kenny Williams’ price is sky-high.  The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mets, and Braves all have interest.  The Braves had offered not only Edgar Renteria but a top pitching prospect, and still were rejected.  Rosenthal expects Garland to stay put because as the asking price is not met.
  • The Dodgers are still the leaders on Octavio Dotel, but the Tribe could jump in if they part with Ben Francisco.  Would Francisco really be missed?
  • The Cubs are looking at role players like Jay Payton and Jeff Conine.  Many Cubs fans have written me looking for some good rumors – anything I would hear would go on the site.  My gut feeling is that they do nothing major.
  • The Orioles asked about Kei Igawa, but were told he’s not available.
  • Rosenthal can see Adam Dunn and Eric Gagne staying put at the deadline.  The need to deal Gagne is a bit more pressing, in my opinion.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Dunn, Wheeler, Izzy

Ken Rosenthal posted a new column last night, and has updated it very recently.  I’ve already spoken about the Teixeira stuff, but there’s other good material in there too.

  • Some of the wilder speculation out there has been that the Twins might trade Torii Hunter or Johan Santana if they decide they’re out of it.  Various Baseball Prospectus reports put the Twins’ playoff chances between 5-10%.  Rosenthal debunks the idea that Minnesota would shop Hunter without first making him an offer, and keeping Santana for at least 2008 makes sense.  Plus, Santana has a no-trade clause. 
  • Rosenthal does have some Twins for us who might be traded: Luis Castillo and Carlos Silva.  Castillo has already been connected to the Mets in rumors, though Silva is a new one.  One could definitely envision Silva’s style working in the National League (I know, I say that a lot).  There was a recent Silva to Atlanta rumor, though Silva’s agent seems to have debunked it.
  • Rosenthal says Dontrelle Willis is not available.  Perhaps he and Tim Brown will engage in fisticuffs over this disagreement. 
  • The Diamondbacks have kicked the tires on Adam Dunn.  He might make sense as a rental – the D’Backs playoff changes sit between 16-27%, worth fighting for.  No doubt they’ve got a stable of young players to offer.
  • Rosenthal says the Astros have yet to receive interest on the Lidge/Wheeler/Qualls troika, while Jayson Stark said yesterday that the Astros hadn’t opened shop on them.  Thunderdome match #2, Rosenthal vs. Stark.  Assuming Ken survives Tim Brown.  Anyway, word is that the Rockies have their eye on Wheeler. 
  • Parties interested in Zack Greinke: Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Braves, and Cubs.  This gels with Dan Graziano’s findings.  Of course, trading a player like Greinke requires an equally talented youngster in return.
  • The Royals may not be able to do better than Cleveland’s Ben Francisco as a bounty for Octavio Dotel.  More on him in a separate post.
  • Trades of Joe Blanton and Huston Street are "highly unlikely."  So you’re saying there’s a chance?
  • The chances of the Cardinals trading Jason Isringhausen are described as "remote."  The Cards would have a hard time replacing him next year; he’s got a reasonable $8MM option.  He also has no-trade protection, so he’d probably want a better extension if he was to accept a trade.