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Frank Francisco Rumors
Here are some recent minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Blue Jays released right-hander Frank Francisco, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. The veteran reliever elected free agency from the White Sox in May and then signed a minor league deal with the Jays in late June, though he never saw any game action. This was Francisco’s second stint in the Toronto organization, as he posted a 3.55 ERA over 50 2/3 IP for the club in 2011 after being acquired from the Rangers for Mike Napoli.
- The Blue Jays released catcher Hector Gimenez last week, as announced by their Triple-A affiliate’s Twitter feed. Gimenez was acquired by the White Sox in May and the veteran backstop appeared in 16 games for Toronto’s Double-A and Triple-A squads. Gimenez has an even 100 career PA in the majors over four seasons with the White Sox, Dodgers and Astros, hitting .216/.280/.330 with two home runs.
Francisco, 34, struggled in his limited time with Chicago this year. Through 3 2/3 innings, he allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits (2 home runs) while striking out 5 and walking 3 batters. Francisco signed a minor league deal with the White Sox over the offseason.
Before the 2012 season, he inked a two-year, $12MM pact to serve as the Mets closer. Even though he notched 23 saves in New York, Francisco managed only a 5.36 ERA in 48 2/3 innings in New York over the life of the deal.
Today’s outright assignments..
Francisco, 34, has been hit hard in his limited time with Chicago this year. Through 3 2/3 innings, he has allowed 5 earned runs on 7 hits (2 home runs) while striking out 5 and walking 3 batters. Francisco signed a minor league deal with the White Sox over the offseason. Before the 2012 season, he inked a two-year, $12MM pact to serve as the Mets closer; though he notched 23 saves in New York, Francisco managed only a 5.36 ERA in 48 2/3 innings in New York over the life of the deal.
The White Sox have signed right-hander Frank Francisco and assigned him to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, according to the Knights' official Twitter account. Francisco is a client of Praver/Shapiro.
The 34-year-old Francisco spent the past two seasons with the Mets after signing a two-year, $12MM contract that proved to be a regrettable move for New York. Over the life of the deal, Francisco pitched just 48 2/3 innings of 5.36 ERA ball, averaging 9.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He missed nearly all of the 2013 season with elbow issues.
The White Sox will hope that Francisco can get back to the form he showed with the Rangers and Blue Jays from 2009-11 when he posted a 3.71 ERA 10.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 36 percent ground-ball rate that led to a 3.41 FIP and 3.32 xFIP. During that time, opponents batted just .236/.299/.382 against Francisco, who racked up 44 saves between the two teams.
Chicago manager Robin Ventura named Matt Lindstrom his closer to open the season, much to the surprise of many pundits that had pegged Nate Jones as Addison Reed's replacement. However, Jones is on the disabled list now, and Lindstrom hasn't inspired much confidence with his new role, so the added bullpen depth makes sense for GM Rick Hahn.
Frank Francisco made his season debut with the Mets yesterday, pitching two-thirds of an inning and issuing a walk in a scoreless appearance. A free agent at season's end, Francisco may not even close out the year with the Mets, as one team official told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York that it's "certainly possible" that the Mets will trade Francisco soon.
According to Rubin, the Mets weren't pleased with what they perceived to be a lack of urgency on Francisco's part to get back to the Major Leagues. Francisco is earning $6.5MM in the second season of a two-year, $12MM contract he signed to be the team's closer. He's been disappointing in New York, to say the least, having pitched to a 5.44 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in just 43 innings of work. Since joining the Mets, Francisco has missed time due to an oblique strain, right elbow tendonitis and recovery from surgery to remove bone spurs from that same elbow.
Interested parties could look at Francisco's track record and hope that he's a low-cost upgrade if he's back to full health. Prior to signing with the Mets, Francisco had compiled a 3.54 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 49 saves from 2008-11. He also dominated on his minor league rehab assignment, yielding just one run on eight hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts over 12 innings across three levels.
The Mets would be happy to simply receive some relief on the $746K remaining on his salary, writes Rubin. Of course, an acquiring team wouldn't be able to include Francisco on its postseason roster, but he could still play a role in helping a team get to the playoffs. Such acquisitions aren't particularly common, but the situation wouldn't be too dissimilar from the Rockies' 2010 acquisition of Octavio Dotel. Rubin speculates that the Yankees could be a fit for Francisco.
For some fascinating reading this Saturday morning, check out Jonah Keri of Grantland's in-depth base-stealing discussion with Coco Crisp. I found the portion involving southpaw tells to be particularly interesting (look for the clip of Crisp stealing off of Brian Matus). Back to the transactional side of the game, here are a few assorted links:
- Former Mariners and Reds outfielder Wladimir Balentien has turned into a star in Japan, where he is currently sitting three long balls back of the single-season record of 55 first reached by the legendary Sadaharu Oh back in 1964. With a slugging percentage north of .800, the 29-year-old might have drawn big league interest. Balentien, however, is in the first year of a three-year, $7.5MM deal with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows that does not contain an opt-out clause, according to a recent report from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
- High-priced Mets reliever Frank Francisco is moving through the minor leagues on a rehab assignment, but may nevertheless be released upon his activation, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rather than attempting to salvage some value from Francisco's cringe-worthy two-year, $12MM contract, the Mets — who obviously will not secure a post-season berth regardless — seem determined not to allow Francisco to put on a free agency showcase in a Mets uniform.
- Addressing a reader question, MLB.com's Scott Merkin took a look at the futures of shortstop Alexei Ramirez and outfielder Alejandro De Aza with the club. Merkin says that Ramirez — whose contract includes $19.5MM for the next two years and a $10MM ($1MM buyout) club option for 2016 — would bring a "solid return" in a trade but figures to stick in Chicago. With his home run tallies dwindling to a trickle, Ramirez's deal does not seem to be any kind of bargain, though perhaps positional scarcity around the league increases its value.
- As for De Aza, Merkin argues that poor baserunning and defense make him more likely to find himself out of the team's plans, especially as he is set to earn a raise on his $2.075MM salary as he enters his second year of arbitration eligibility. While De Aza looks at first glance to be a solid regular at low cost, there seems to be an interesting split on the value of his contribution this year. Fangraphs credits De Aza with 2.2 WAR on the season, while Baseball-Reference pegs him at just .1 WAR based on an exceedingly poor defensive rating. In 2011 and 2012, both sites viewed him as an approximately 2.5 win player. Whatever his actual value, the Sox would presumably be able to get a reasonable return if they made De Aza available via trade.
- The Angels are working towards a long-term deal with the city of Anaheim, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The current proposal would allow the team to drop the appendage "of Anaheim" from its name, and and would see the Angels pay to renovate Angels Stadium in exchange for beneficial land lease and development rights surrounding the ballpark.
The Yankees publicly wish Alex Rodriguez a quick recovery and a return to the lineup, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman points out that the club may privately hope Rodriguez retires so it can save roughly 80% of the third baseman's remaining salary due to an insurance policy. Rodriguez would still be paid what he's owed but the Yankees would recoup around $70MM if A-Rod's hip surgery prevents him from taking the field again.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has a few more items about both the Bronx Bombers and the Amazins…
- Lyle Overbay has become a crucial depth piece for the Yankees, which has surprisingly led to the career first baseman playing right field. With Mark Teixeira's wrist still a question mark, the Yankees doesn't want to lose Overbay but still wants to find playing time for the veteran.
- The Mets are slightly more likely to draft a college player in Thursday's draft since they feel they're a bit closer to contending. After taking high schoolers in the first round in each of the last two seasons, the Mets could be tempted to take a player who is closer to contributing at the Major League level.
- Frank Francisco's two-year, $12MM contract stands out as the most glaring of the errors the Mets have made in trying to fix their bullpen, Martino writes in a separate piece. Francisco hasn't pitched this season due to an elbow problem and threw what Martino described as "the worst bullpen session [several Mets staffers] could remember" in March during Spring Training. One of the staffers present said the sesssion "was disgusting" and that Francisco "is either hurt or he doesn’t care.” Sandy Alderson said he thinks Francisco will pitch in 2013 though the GM gave no timetable about when the right-hander could return.
- As reported earlier today, the Yankees released outfielder Ben Francisco.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson sat down with Kevin Burkhardt on SNY's Hot Stove show (video link) to discuss a number of topics, including…
- Alderson confirmed that the Mets are still looking for relief pitching despite signing LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison to minor league deals over the last three days. "We may even add a name or two [to the bullpen] between now and the beginning of Spring Training," Alderson said. "I'm encouraged about the depth and the options we have in the bullpen."
- This positivity about the relief corps doesn't extend to Frank Francisco, as Alderson admitted he's worried about the incumbent closer given Francisco's struggles and injury issues in 2012. "I don't know that we can have a lot of confidence in where we are [at closer]," Alderson said. "I hope Frankie does something over the next few weeks to dispel that discomfort."
- There could be competition for the closer's job during Spring Training, possibly involving a current reliever (Alderson mentioned Bobby Parnell) or a new acquisition. "We've taken a lot of time to look at other possibilities and ways that we can shore this up. We have added some pitching but more at the front end of the bullpen as opposed to the back end," Alderson said.
- "If there's anyone deserving of an eight-year contract in New York with the Mets, it is and has been David Wright," Alderson said. The GM admitted that he isn't comfortable giving out such long-term deals but said that Wright's performance, history with the team and his off-the-field contributions were all major considerations in Wright's extension.
- Terry Collins is entering the last year of his contract as Mets manager and Alderson didn't give any hints that an extension could be forthcoming. "I've talked to Terry and I think he's comfortable with his situation and I know that whatever happens this season, there will be a fair evaluation at the end," Alderson said. He is "very comfortable with Terry" and noted that the team's win-loss record over Collins' two years as skipper isn't a major factor, though Alderson is troubled by how the Mets have faltered in the second half under Collins.
- From yesterday, Alderson also took questions from Mets season-ticket holders.
- Free agent right-hander Rich Harden is drawing interest from teams that would use him either as a starter or a reliever, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Harden posted 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 82 2/3 innings as a starter for the Athletics in 2011.
- The Twins continue eyeing affordable right-handed relievers and have been in touch with the agent for Dan Wheeler, according to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Wheeler, who has also drawn some interest from the Pirates, sits below a couple of pitchers on the Twins’ list.
- The Pirates have had discussions with free agent left-hander Paul Maholm, but it remains highly unlikely that he'll return to Pittsburgh, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Mat Latos trade improved a Padres farm system that already ranked among the game’s best, Jim Callis of Baseball America wrote in this week’s edition of Ask BA.
- One MLB executive suggested to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Cubs and Blue Jays may prefer to pass on Prince Fielder, since Joey Votto projects to hit free agency two years from now when both Chicago and Toronto could have stronger teams (Twitter link).
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com provides contract details for Mets relievers Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, who both agreed to terms during the Winter Meetings.