Frank Francisco Rumors
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.
December 19th: The Mets officially announced Francisco's two-year deal.
December 6th: The Mets appear determined to fill out their entire bullpen before the night is out. The team has agreed to a two-year deal with Frank Francisco, pending a physical, tweets Ken Davidoff of Newsday. Francisco is the third reliever the Mets have added to the fold tonight, following their signing of Jon Rauch and their trade for Ramon Ramirez. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Francisco's two-year contract will earn the right-hander $12MM.
Francisco, 32, will close for the Mets, with Rauch setting up, tweets Davidoff, and Bryan Grosnick provides the fantasy spin at CloserNews.com. The Blue Jays employed a similar setup in their bullpen for much of the season, and will receive compensation picks for Francisco and Rauch, both Type B free agents. In his lone season in Toronto, Francisco posted a 3.55 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 17 saves.
In MLBTR's list of this winter's top 50 free agents, Francisco ranked 44th. MLBTR's writers identified six different destinations for the righty in our prediction contest, but none of us picked the Mets.
Free agent notes I found lying around on Twitter...
- Righty Chris Young should be ready for spring training following shoulder capsule surgery, his agent told MLB.com's Corey Brock.
- Aaron Rowand is looking for a big league job, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The Phillies said no.
- Manny Ramirez is calling teams directly in his search for employment, tweets Bob Klapisch.
- Reliever Frank Francisco is likely to sign elsewhere in the wake of the Blue Jays acquiring Sergio Santos, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters today.
- Infielder Miguel Tejada hopes for a Major League deal, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
- More than a dozen scouts are expected to watch Joel Zumaya throw next week, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Padres are among the team's that will be in attendance.
- Sidney Ponson has no intention of pitching again, writes MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko. Currently, Ponson is contemplating whether to purchase a boat. I say go for it, big guy!
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Frank Francisco (B), Kelly Johnson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), Jose Molina (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). They declined to offer Shawn Camp (B) arbitration.
- The Red Sox announced that they offered David Ortiz (A) and Dan Wheeler (B) arbitration. They declined to offer Jason Varitek (B) arbitration. Jonathan Papelbon (A) already signed with the Phillies.
- The Yankees offered Freddy Garcia (B) arbitration according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter).
- The Royals offered Bruce Chen (B) arbitration, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- The White Sox announced they've offered arbitration to Mark Buehrle (B) and not Juan Pierre (B).
- The Athletics announced David DeJesus (B) and Josh Willingham (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) were offered arbitration.
- The Rangers announced C.J. Wilson (A) will be offered arbitration. Modified Type B free agent Darren Oliver does not require an offer.
- The Orioles announced they will not offer arbitration to Vladimir Guerrero (B).
- Twins GM Terry Ryan said today on a conference call that he will offer arbitration to Michael Cuddyer (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Jason Kubel (B), and noted that no arbitration offer is necessary for modified Type B free agent Matt Capps.
Teams with decisions still due:
Ten months ago, Frank Francisco and cash brought the Rangers two years of Mike Napoli. After a season with the Blue Jays, Francisco is now a free agent, and MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers have expressed interest in bringing him back. So far, the Mets have also been linked to Francisco.
Francisco, 32, posted a 3.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, and 38.6% groundball rate in 50 2/3 innings this year. He was diagnosed in March with tightness in his right pectoral and biceps inflammation, which delayed his season debut until April 20th. He bounced in and out of Toronto's closer role, saving 17 games in 21 opportunities. The Rangers are very open to the idea of moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation next year, which may create a need at the back end of the bullpen even with summer acquisitions Mike Adams and Koji Uehara under team control.
Manager Ozzie Guillen says the Marlins are "dead serious" about making a splash in free agency this offseason, and he's not alone. According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (Twitter link), Marlins president David Samson said that, this winter, "the poachee is becoming the poacher." I think we've found our tagline for the hypothetical Miami Marlins movie. Here are a few more notes on the Marlins' division rivals:
- The Mets and Frank Francisco's representatives met today, tweets Newsday's Ken Davidoff. GM Sandy Alderson also said that bringing back Jason Isringhausen is possible, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
- The Nationals don't expect to be in on Ryan Madson or any of the other big-name closers on the market, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. "We have a big closer already," said GM Mike Rizzo, referring to Drew Storen. "Anything can happen. But we like where our bullpen is at. Can we improve the bullpen? Certainly, we could improve the bullpen. But we're really satisfied that we have three guys who are very young, very controllable, very talented."
- Rizzo also told Kilgore (Twitter link) that there's more trade interest in his players this year than at most previous GM meetings.
- The Braves have added three minor league pitchers to their 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.