Jeff Francis Rumors


Reds To Sign Jeff Francis, Thomas Neal

4:38pm: The Reds have also signed Thomas Neal, the outfielder tweeted himself. Neal, 26, spent the 2013 season in the Cubs and Yankees organizations. He batted .325/.391/.411 in 297 Triple-A plate appearances and collected two hits and a walk in 17 Major League PAs. Neal is represented by Jeff Berry of CAA Sports.

3:08pm: The Reds have agreed to a minor league deal with southpaw Jeff Francis, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Francis is represented by Frontline Athlete Management. His deal includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

This will be Francis' second stint with the Reds, as he also inked a minor league pact with Cincinnati prior to the 2012 season. Francis exercised an opt-out clause in June that year and has spent the past season-and-a-half with the Rockies -- the team that originally selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2002 draft. In that time, Francis has pitched to a 5.84 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate.

Francis is the second starter with notable big league experience that the Reds have brought in on a minor league deal this offseason. Cincinnati also inked right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training.



Rockies Waive Volstad; Promote Oswalt

The Rockies have placed Chris Volstad on waivers, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The move creates a 40-man roster spot for Roy Oswalt, who will be promoted and start tonight for Colorado. Jeff Francis has accepted a minor league assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs, which clears a 25-man roster spot for Oswalt. We learned yesterday that Francis would be removed from the 25-man roster, but it wasn't clear whether he would accept a trip to the minors or be designated for assignment.

Volstad, 26, appeared in six games for the Rockies this season and allowed 10 runs in 8 1/3 innings with three strikeouts and one walk. In 10 games (nine starts) for Colorado Springs this season, Volstad has a 4.79 ERA with 3.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

Oswalt, 35, has pitched briliantly for Double-A Tulsa since signing with the Rockies in May. In five starts (33 1/3 innings), the longtime Astro has a 2.16 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. Last week I examined how much Oswalt would earn based on the incentives in his contract if he were promoted this week. Given the date, it's likely that he could earn nearly $4.3MM if he stays healthy and pitches well.

Francis, 32, re-signed with the Rockies on a one-year deal with a $1.5MM base salary and another $1.5MM worth of incentives. In 52 innings this season, he's posted a 6.58 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. The strikeout rate is actually the highest of Francis' career, as is his 50.3 percent ground-ball rate. He's been hurt by a homer-to-flyball ratio (20.4 percent) that's nearly double that of his career mark.



Rockies To Remove Francis From Roster; Promote Oswalt

While the precise roster move to be made remains unknown, starter Jeff Francis will be removed from the Rockies' active roster tomorrow, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The team will promote Roy Oswalt to start tomorrow's game at Washington.

As Renck explains, the club could seek to option Francis, but would need the veteran's consent to do so. Of course, a 40-man roster spot would presumably still need to be cleared under that scenario to make way for Oswalt. Otherwise, Colorado could designate Francis for assignment. Either way, says Renck, the lefty has had his locker cleared out and will not accompany the team to D.C.

Francis, 32, re-signed with the Rockies on a one-year deal with a $1.5MM base salary and another $1.5MM worth of incentives. In 52 innings this season, he's posted a 6.58 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. The strikeout rate is actually the highest of Francis' career, as is his 50.3 percent ground-ball rate. He's been hurt by a homer-to-flyball ratio (20.4 percent) that's nearly double that of his career mark.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.



Quick Hits: Alburquerque, Wada, Francis

Tigers pitcher Al Alburquerque has changed agencies from ACES to Beverly Hills Sports Council, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Major League Baseball investigates ACES' possible ties to the Biogenesis scandal. Alburquerque has pitched 71 innings in his big-league career, posting a 1.90 ERA with 16.3 K/9 and 8.2 BB/9. He has 14 1/3 innings pitched for the Tigers this year. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • MLB's latest PED scandal could impact pennant races and the trading deadline, says ESPN.com's Jim Bowden (Insider-only). Teams don't know the identities of all the players in the Biogenesis scandal and who might be suspended as a result, Bowden writes, and that could make it difficult for GMs as they head down the stretch. Melky Cabrera's abrupt departure from the Giants last August -- after the trading deadline -- is the sort of scenario that might be faced by some GMs, who will have a hard time preparing for suspensions they might not be sure are coming. The Giants, of course, won the World Series even without Cabrera, but they didn't have one of their most productive hitters in the final six weeks of the regular season. This year, the Rangers, for example, will have to consider their backup plan in case Nelson Cruz, who has been named in the scandal, is suspended.
  • The list of sellers at this year's trade deadline could be large, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Rosenthal's list of potential sellers includes three teams that entered the season with lofty aspirations (the Dodgers, Angels and Blue Jays), along with the Astros, Marlins, Phillies, Padres, Brewers, Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Royals, Mariners and Mets. That's a very long list, which suggests that it might be a buyer's market at the deadline. Rosenthal says, however, that some of those teams (the Angels, Blue Jays, Phillies and Royals, in particular) might not actually sell, even though some of their records right now might dictate that they would.
  • Tsuyoshi Wada of the Orioles could agree to remain in the minor leagues once his rehab stint is over, reports MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko. Wada has not pitched well for Triple-A Norfolk, posting a 5.87 ERA in 23 innings, and after having elbow surgery, he has yet to make his big-league debut despite being in the second year of a two-year, $8.15MM deal. That deal hasn't worked out well, but Kubatko quotes a scout who says it made sense at the time. "[Wada] was worth the gamble. When he came in, (Miguel) Gonzalez wasn't there, (Wei-Yin) Chen wasn't established, (Jason) Hammel wasn't there yet. So he was worth the gamble. And it wasn't a lot of money."
  • Jeff Francis will likely start on Saturday for the Rockies, but his future with the organization is in question, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. "I think I can help this team, and I think I can do a lot of things," says Francis. "But I know that the reality of baseball is that if you don’t do them enough, then your time runs out." Francis had posted a 6.00 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 before landing on the disabled list with a strained groin. Tyler Chatwood, who Francis will replace on Saturday, will still have his rotation spot when he returns from a sore triceps, and Roy Oswalt, currently at Double-A Tulsa, is slated to join the big-league team shortly.



NL Notes: Pence, Rockies, Lutz

Hunter Pence felt guilty after being traded from the Phillies to the Giants last season, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. "To be honest with you, I felt really guilty," says Pence. "I was heavily invested in bringing the Phillies back, and it felt like… I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault that it fell apart." Pence hit .271/.336/.447 for the Phillies in 2012, and the team was 45-56 when it dealt Pence near the end of July. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The Rockies are off to a surprising start, but Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio haven't been positive parts of it, and it remains to be seen how long they'll be in the rotation, the Denver Post's Troy Renck writes. Francis has a 7.27 ERA thus far, and Nicasio has only lasted longer than five innings once this season.
  • The Rockies might have payroll flexibility to take on salary in a trade for a starter at midseason, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. But that payroll flexibility will be tied to increased revenue, a club official says.
  • Outfielder Donald Lutz of the Reds, who made his big-league debut last week, is likely the first German-raised player in MLB history, says Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Lutz was born in the U.S., and his father is American, but his mother is German, and Lutz moved to Germany as a baby. Morosi points out that Germany lags behind the Netherlands and Italy in its development of baseball players, but that could easily change, since Germany is so populous.



NL Notes: Phillies, Reds, Rockies, Figgins

As players, coaches, and front office personnel begin to arrive in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training 2013, let's take a look at the news and notes from the National League:



Rockies Re-Sign Jeff Francis

The Rockies have re-signed lefty Jeff Francis, the team announced (on Twitter). It's a one-year contract worth $1.5MM guaranteed with another $1.5M in incentives based on innings pitched. Francis is represented by Frontline.

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Francis, 31, was drafted in the first round by the Rockies in 2002 and remained with the club through 2010. After a year and a half detour with the Royals and Reds, he rejoined the organization last June and pitched 113 innings in the Majors. Francis had decent peripheral stats but, as usual, allowed a ton of hits. Among starters with at least 100 innings in 2012, Francis' 85.3 mile per hour average fastball velocity ranked fifth-lowest. He ranks second in Rockies franchise history with 61 wins, behind Aaron Cook.

Francis probably has a claim on a rotation spot to begin the year with the 2013 Rockies, who have Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin penciled in. The team augmented their bullpen a few weeks ago, acquiring reliever Wilton Lopez from Houston.

The Denver Post has the breakdown of the incentives. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick originally reported the agreement (Twitter links). Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire. Mike Axisa contributed to this post.



Rockies Notes: Cuddyer, Francis, Fowler

Some early-morning Rockies news, courtesy of the Denver Post's Troy Renck (Twitter links)...

  • A trade is still the more likely means for Colorado to acquire starting pitching help, according to Renck. Teams are calling about Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer. Renck notes that the two years and $21MM remaining on Cuddyer's contract may be appealing to teams, given the inflated prices we've seen in this year's free agent market.
  • The one-year deal signed by Jeff Francis last night will pay the southpaw somewhere north of $750K salary that he earned in 2012.
  • Renck also writes that the team included Alex White in this week's Wilton Lopez trade because they no longer viewed White as a starter.
  • Within that same piece, Renck reports that in trade talks prior to the Winter Meetings, the Rockies asked for Mike Minor and one of Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado in exchange for Fowler. Needless to say, the price on Colorado's center fielder remains high.



Quick Hits: Rockies, Bonifacio, Oliver, Ibanez

The Winter Meetings rumors continue to fly in, so let's round up another batch of them....

  • The Rockies have told reps for free agents that they're attempting to acquire a pitcher via trade, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado would also like to bring back Jeff Francis on a minor league deal, tweets Renck.
  • Although he indicated last night that Emilio Bonifacio could be available, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets today that the Blue Jays don't want to move him, "at least not yet."
  • Darren Oliver remains undecided about whether he'll play in 2013, and hasn't requested a trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have exercised their '13 team option on the left-hander.
  • The Astros are planning to take two players in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • The Mariners remain in play for virtually every available hitter, tweets Knobler. Among their targets is Raul Ibanez, who the M's are "pushing" for, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Ibanez would prefer to rejoin the Yankees, but New York hasn't been as aggressive as Seattle, tweets Sherman.
  • According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Yankees bid higher than the White Sox for Jeff Keppinger, but the utility infielder chose Chicago.
  • In addition to Keppinger, the White Sox plan to bring in another infielder and a catcher, assuming A.J. Pierzynski leaves, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin.



Rockies Interested In Correia, Francis

As they attempt to bolster a rotation that ranked among the worst in MLB this past season, the Rockies have expressed interest in numerous free agent starting pitchers, including right-hander Kevin Correia and left-hander Jeff Francis, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. The Rockies aim to acquire a reliable arm capable of providing steady innings within a relatively young and inexperienced rotation.

Correia, 32, spent last season with the Pirates, mostly as a member of the Pittsburgh rotation. He posted a 4.21 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 171 innings. Correia, an All-Star in 2011, recently completed a two-year, $8MM contract with the Pirates. When I discussed the Rockies’ search for pitching last week, I suggested Correia would be worth considering.

Francis started 24 games for the Rockies in 2012, leading the team with 113 innings pitched. The 31-year-old posted a 5.58 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9, but he has had success at Coors Field in the past. He has indicated a desire to return to Colorado, Renck reports.

The Rockies have also been getting calls on Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer, though they aren’t looking to trade either outfielder. The Braves have called about Fowler, an Atlanta native, according to Renck.









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