Frank Francisco Rumors


Quick Hits: Liz, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Gonzalez

Links for Saturday evening...



American League Free Agent Arbitration Decisions

23 American League free agents were offered arbitration on November 23rd.  Four of those - Joaquin Benoit, John Buck, Victor Martinez, and Javier Vazquez - already have new contract agreements.  Current free agent Kevin Gregg has chosen to decline.  The remaining 18 AL free agents offered arbitration will have their decisions noted here and in our tracker.



Frank Francisco Likely To Accept Arbitration

Free agent right-hander Frank Francisco is likely to accept the Rangers' offer of arbitration according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As a Type-A free agent, a team would need to surrender a high draft pick to sign him, something many clubs won't be willing to do for a reliever.

To make matters worse, the 31-year-old Francisco missed the last month of the season (as well as Texas' playoff run) due to a strained rib cage. He's certainly a quality reliever, striking out 10.9 and walking just 2.9 batters unintentionally for every nine innings pitched over the last three seasons. He saved 25 games for the Rangers last season, but was usurped as closer by Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz early in 2010.

I examined Francisco's free agent stock late last month, noting that he could accept arbitration and receive a $4MM or so salary in 2011 (he earned $3.265MM in 2010). Earlier today we learned that the Rangers have explored the idea of signing a closer and moving Feliz into the rotation, a move Francisco could help facilitate.



American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.



Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Boras, Francisco, Dunn

Links for Tuesday night, one year after the White Sox signed Omar Vizquel. One year later, the White Sox have already re-signed the 43-year-old infielder for 2011... 



Free Agent Stock Watch: Frank Francisco

Neftali Feliz is ready to close games in the World Series and is a strong candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, but it's easy to forget that he didn't even start the season as the Rangers' closer. That job belonged to Frank Francisco, who saved 25 games in 29 chances last season. He blew the save in his first two opportunities of the season and sported a double digit ERA in late-April, putting the ninth inning in Feliz's hands.

Francisco is set to hit the free agent market for the first time in his career in a few weeks, so let's break down his stock...

The Good

  • After the rough start, Francisco was exceptionally strong as Feliz's setup man the rest of the way. After April 20th, he pitched to a 2.83 ERA with 56 strikeouts and just 13 unintentional walks in 47.2 innings.
  • He's dominant, striking out 200 batters over the last three seasons (10.9 K/9) walking just 54 unintentionally (2.94 BB/9).
  • As stated before, he has experience closing games, not mention familiarity with the setup role as well. Versatility is always a plus.

The Bad

  • Francisco finished the year on the disabled list due to a strained rib cage suffered in late August and hasn't been able to pitch in the playoffs. He also hit the disabled list twice in 2009 due to a shoulder strain, plus once more with a bout with walking pneumonia.
  • He can be prone to the long ball, averaging one homer for just a touch over every nine innings pitched over the last three seasons. The Ballpark in Arlington has exacerbated that problem, his HR/9 on the road since 2008 is a much more managable 0.68.
  • Francisco is projected to be a Type-A free agent, so if the Rangers offer him arbitration, a team would have to surrender a high pick to sign him.

Verdict

Francisco's offseason is going to depend on whether or not the Rangers offer him arbitration. If they don't, his stock will be much higher because the stigma of forfeiting a high draft pick is gone. If they offer and he declines, he could find himself in a Juan Cruz circa 2008-2009 situation, where he's unemployed late into the offseason because no one feels he's worth giving up a pick. There's also a non-zero chance that Francisco would accept an arbitration offer, since an award would push him close to $4MM next year ($3.265MM salary in 2010). He might not be able to find that much money on the open market.

If Francisco does hit the market, perhaps his best course of action would be to take a one-year deal to serve as a non-contender's closer, building up his value so he could shoot for a multi-year guarantee next winter. He could also be a nice fallback option for a team breaking in a young and/or inexperienced closer.



Odds & Ends: Red Sox, Howard, Francisco, Mendoza

Links to check out as we await Cliff Lee's Mariners debut...



Rangers Notes: Francisco, Wilson, Feldman, Mendoza

Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News discussed a number of Rangers topics in a webchat this afternoon...

  • Grant predicts Texas will let Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson leave when they reach free agency after the 2010 and 2011 seasons, respectively. 
  • If Scott Feldman (who has two more arbitration years left) pitches well this season, Grant thinks the Rangers will try to negotiate a long-term deal with the starter.
  • The out-of-options Luis Mendoza wouldn't be attractive trade bait to other teams, Grant says, though "a bad team might claim him on waivers. If so, the Rangers will be happy to pay his taxi fare to another camp.  He's done nothing but go backwards."
  • In regards to Brandon McCarthy, Grant thinks the right-hander will probably end up in the minors "unless somebody wants to make a deal based on projecting continued improvement with [his] sinker."  Grant noted that a Nationals scout attended McCarthy's spring start on Wednesday.
  • Grant doesn't think the Rangers will have any interest in the newly-released Chad Gaudin since they have plenty of starting options already.



Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

We'll round up any and all players that agree to deals today to avoid arbitration in this post, so check back in for updates...

  • MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports (via Twitter) that the Rangers have avoided arbitration with reliever Frank Francisco by agreeing to a one-year, $3.265MM contract.
  • The official Brewers Twitter site is reporting that Carlos Villanueva has agreed to a one-year contract.  The deal is worth $950K according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (via Twitter).
  • The Red Sox and Jeremy Hermida have agreed to a one-year deal for 2010 to avoid arbitration according to a team press release. Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald reports (via Twitter) that Hermida will earn $3.345MM in 2010. Theo Epstein's streak of avoiding arbitration lasts another year.



Players Tendered Contracts

Midnight ET is the non-tender deadline, so we'll keep track of all the players who are offered and/or agreed to contracts today in this post. Keep coming back throughout the day for updates.









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