Jeff Francis Rumors

East Notes: Marlins, Stammen, Francis

Marlins manager Mike Redmond is rumored to be on the hot seat, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the team doesn’t need a new manager, just better starting pitching. Marlins starters have a 5.23 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9, and they’re reeling from the loss of Henderson Alvarez with a shoulder injury. Still, the Marlins have enough talent to rebound from their 3-10 start, Frisaro says. Here are more quick notes from the East divisions.

  • Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen had surgery Sunday to fix two torn flexor tendons in his forearm, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. He is likely to miss the rest of the season and will be able to return for Spring Training next year. In the last three seasons, Stammen has been a workhorse in the Nats’ bullpen, pitching 242 2/3 innings in that span. He’ll make $2.25MM in 2015 and is arbitration eligible next winter for the last time before free agency.
  • Jeff Francis is back in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, and he’s hoping to stick around even though he knows it might be tough to do so, John Lott of the National Post writes. The former Rockies starter pitched 3 1/3 innings Sunday, but he’s 34 and throws in the upper 80s. He’s now pitching for his fourth team since the start of the 214 season, having appeared with the Reds, Athletics and Yankees last year. Francis, who is from Canada, calls playing for his favorite childhood team a “thrill” but says it’s one he’ll mostly enjoy after he’s done playing.

AL East Notes: Francis, Balfour, Betts, Schoop

The Blue Jays announced today that they’ve selected the contract of veteran left-hander Jeff Francis and optioned fellow lefty Colt Hynes to Triple-A Buffalo. The 34-year-old Francis, a native of Vancouver, will add another Canadian player to Toronto’s roster, joining Russell Martin, Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey. Francis will hope for better results than he’s seen over the past three seasons, during which he’s posted a combined 5.84 ERA in 203 1/3 innings with the Rockies, Reds, A’s and Yankees. Toronto already had an open 40-man roster spot after designating Todd Redmond for assignment last week.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Recently designated right-hander Grant Balfour spoke with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times about how he wished his second run with the Rays had yielded better results. Balfour admitted to shying away from his fastball after the realization that the pitch lacked its typical life. The Australian righty wouldn’t state for certain whether or not he’d pursue another opportunity immediately: “Maybe a little bit of rest will be good for me. … I’m not thinking too far ahead. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
  • After speaking to multiple scouts about the futures of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes that Betts has leap-frogged Bogaerts in the eyes of the baseball industry. “I don’t think you could find anyone in baseball who would pick Bogaerts over Betts right now,” one scout told Silverman. Another said Betts “clearly” has the better bat of the two, while a third scout said that in 20 years, Betts “makes quicker adjustments to his game than anybody I’ve seen.” All of the scouts to whom Silverman spoke are quick to clarify that Bogaerts still has star potential, but the glowing reviews add to the meteoric rise of Betts over the past 12 months.
  • Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop is likely to miss longer than the minimum amount of time on the 15-day disabled list, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 23-year-old Schoop suffered a Grade 1 partial PCL tear and an MCL sprain, and while surgery is unlikely, an exact timetable is unknown. Encina looks at Anthony Rendon as a possible comparable, noting that Rendon has just resumed baseball activities six weeks after spraining his left MCL.

AL East Notes: Cash, Closers, Jaso

The Rays are considered leaders in analytics, so perhaps it’s no coincidence they hired former catcher Kevin Cash, writes Michael Kolligian of MLB.com. Former catchers account for 12 of the last 19 World Series winning managers. Joe Torre is responsible for four of those victories. While there are a number of confounding variables, former catchers are always popular managerial candidates. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • While most teams are quick to name a closer, the Yankees are taking a wait-and-see approach, writes Andrew Simon of MLB.com. New York has two excellent but unproven options in right-hander Dellin Betances and southpaw Andrew Miller. Selecting a closer could come down to bullpen composition, said manager Joe Girardi. “I think it’s affected by possibly losing someone out of your bullpen to a starting role. That changes things. So we’ve got to figure that out first, then we put the rest of it together.” To me, this means that Miller is more likely to close if Adam Warren earns a gig in the rotation. Betances provided great value in multi-inning appearances last season. If Warren returns to the pen, the Yankees may prefer Miller to be available for tough left-handed hitters.
  • The trickle down effect from Marcus Stroman‘s season-ending injury could cause the Blue Jays to roster a third left-handed reliever, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. With Stroman out, prospect Aaron Sanchez is likely to make the rotation with lefty Brett Cecil filling in as the closer. Southpaw Aaron Loup is also expected to make the roster. Jeff Francis and Colt Hynes are internal options for the third lefty role. Externally, Cardinals reliever Sam Freeman and Nationals pitcher Xavier Cedeno were connected to the Mets earlier this evening.
  • John Jaso suffered two concussions in the last two seasons that have put his career in jeopardy, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Presently, Jaso feels fine, but he’s unsure if he can catch. Per Jaso, “if they were to say, ‘Here, catch tomorrow,’ I don’t know. That’s the scary part. Like I don’t know if I could take one, take 40 foul tips, what it would be…What I do know is that the longer I have between episodes, the stronger I’ll be. It’s letting the brain heal all the way again. You might think it’s gone, you might think you are all right, but it’s still there.


Quick Hits: Yankees, Hamels, Arb Cases

The Yankees finalized last summer’s trades for Martin Prado, Josh Outman and Jeff Francis with cash rather than minor leaguers, a team official tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog.  All three deals (with the Diamondbacks, Indians and Athletics, respectively) were made with either cash or a player to be named later going back to the other team in return.  Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • In an entry from Buster Olney’s latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, he notes that talent is a rarer commodity than money in today’s game, which is why he feels the Phillies should consider eating some of Cole Hamels‘ contract to bring back better prospects in a deal.  Looking at the Hamels-to-Boston trade rumors, Olney wonders why the Red Sox would deal top prospects for Hamels now when a number of ace-level pitchers will be available for only cash in free agency next offseason.
  • This offseason has already seen eight arbitration hearings and seven more outstanding cases could go to a hearing, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi notes.  It’s an unusually high number given that there were only 13 arb hearings in total over the previous four offseasons, though Morosi doesn’t yet think this could be an omen about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
  • Former big leaguer-turned-FOX Sports analyst C.J. Nitkowski is no stranger to minor league contracts, and he details some of the many factors that a player must consider before signing such a deal.
  • Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron lists his ten least-favorite moves of the offseason, with the Padres‘ trade for Matt Kemp topping the list.  Cameron believes the Padres paid far too heavy a price in both talent and salary to acquire Kemp, whose best days are possibly behind him due to a checkered injury history.

Blue Jays Sign Jeff Francis To Minor League Deal

The Blue Jays announced that they have signed veteran left-hander Jeff Francis to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training. Francis is a client of Frontline Athlete Management.

Francis, 34 in January, split the 2014 season between the Reds, Athletics and Yankees, totaling 20 innings of work. He allowed 13 runs in that time for a 5.85 ERA, though he did post a strong 15-to-3 K/BB ratio as well.

Originally the ninth overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Rockies, the Canadian-born Francis has totaled a 4.95 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 1269 career innings between the Rockies, Royals, Red, A’s and Yankees. He’ll give the Jays some rotation depth to stash at Triple-A and could also serve as a relief option, as he did with the Rockies last season and in 11 of his 12 appearances in 2014.


Yankees Release Jeff Francis

The Yankees have released left-hander Jeff Francis, according to the team’s official transactions page. The veteran southpaw had been designated for assignment by the Bombers last week, with outfielder Zoilo Almonte taking his roster spot.

Francis has pitched for the Reds, A’s and Yankees this season, posting a combined 5.85 ERA with 15 strikeouts against three free passes in 20 innings. Francis hasn’t posted a sub-5.00 ERA since he fired 183 innings of 4.82 ERA ball with the 2011 Royals, though ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA have consistently been a bigger fan of his work than his ERA. He’s been plagued by a below-average strand rate for the past several seasons, and his homer-to-flyball ratio has been considerably above his career norm over the past three seasons as well.

Teams in need of rotation depth could give the former No. 9 overall draft pick a look, be it in the rotation or in the bullpen. With the exception of his small 2014 sample, Francis has done a nice job of holding left-handers in check in recent years.


Yankees Designate Jeff Francis For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they have designated veteran lefty Jeff Francis for assignment and recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 33-year-old Francis appeared in just two games for the Yanks, allowing a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. In total this season between New York, Cincinnati and Oakland, he’s posted a 5.85 ERA with a strong 15-to-3 K/BB ratio.


Yankees Acquire Jeff Francis

1:50pm: The A’s have now released a correction that lines up with the Yankees’ announcement (hat tip: MLB.com’s Jane Lee). Francis and cash considerations are indeed heading to the Yankees for a player to be named later.

1:17pm: The Yankees, however, have announced that they will be receiving Francis and cash considerations in exchange for a player to be named later. The discrepancy is puzzling, but it appears Oakland could be receiving what would likely be a marginal player to be named later in the deal.

1:03pm: The A’s have announced the trade of Francis to the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations.

12:39pm: The Yankees have acquired veteran lefty Jeff Francis from the A’s, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Francis was designated for assignment last week.

Francis, 33, has pitched 18 1/3 innings this season for the A’s and Reds, allowing 12 runs (5.89 ERA) with a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio. Formerly the ninth overall pick in the draft (2002), it’s been awhile since Francis enjoyed success as a member of a big league rotation. He posted a 4.19 ERA in 414 1/3 for the 2006-07 Rockies — no small feat in Coors Field, as evidenced by his park-adjusted 116 ERA+ — but it’s been a struggle since that time for the Canadian hurler. Francis owns a 5.22 ERA in 632 2/3 innings since that time.

The Yankees are undoubtedly on the lookout for pitching depth with yesterday’s news that Masahiro Tanaka has a slight tear in his right elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament. Francis has pitched well over the past three seasons in Triple-A, registering a 3.75 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 163 1/3 innings between the Reds and Rockies organizations.


Athletics Designate Jeff Francis For Assignment

The A’s announced (on Twitter) that they have designated left-hander Jeff Francis for assignment and activated fellow lefty Eric O’Flaherty from the disabled list.

The 33-year-old Francis appeared in nine games for the A’s (all relief appearances) and yielded nine runs in 13 1/3 total innings with a 10-to-3 K/BB ratio. The longtime Rockies hurler began the year with the Reds but was claimed off waivers by Oakland back in May. Once a mainstay in Colorado’s rotation, Francis has seen his stock drop since his peak years in 2006-07. The former No. 9 overall pick in the draft has a career 4.95 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate in 1267 1/3 innings.

O’Flaherty will be making his first appearance on Oakland’s active roster after signing a two-year, $7MM contract with the A’s this offseason. The former Brave underwent Tommy John surgery last year and has been on the shelf all season as he recovers. When healthy, O’Flaherty was one of the National League’s best setup men, posting a 1.99 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 249 1/3 innings from 2009-13. He’s lethal against opposing lefties and has typically been solid against right-handed hitters as well, so he will make a nice addition to Oakland’s relief corps.


Athletics Claim Jeff Francis Off Waivers From Reds

3:39pm: Savery will be optioned to Triple-A rather than simply being placed on paternity leave, tweets Slusser, with the idea of utilizing Francis as a long man.

2:47pm: The Athletics have claimed lefty Jeff Francis off waivers from the Reds, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Francis had been designated for assignment on Friday.

Francis, 33, got just one start with Cincinnati before he hit the wire, allowing three earned over five innings. He had been working effectively at Triple-A, tossing 48 2/3 frames with a 3.33 ERA, supported by a solid 8.3 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9.

As Slusser explains, the A’s will place recently-promoted southpaw Joe Savery on paternity leave. Francis will take his place on the active roster, though the club’s plans from that point forward remain unclear.