Jeff Francis Rumors

Quick Hits: Hamilton, Reds, Francis, Rays, Nady

Wednesday night linkage..


Quick Hits: Francis, Phillies, Athletics, Torre, Mets

Lance Berkman told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that he thinks Bud Selig extorted new Astros owner Jim Crane into moving the team to the AL next season. "I think that's exactly what it was," said the former 'Stro. "To tell [Crane], 'We're going to hold the sale of the team up until you guys agreed to switch?' It just happened that the Astros were being sold at an optimal time for that to happen."

Conspiracy theories aside, here's the latest from around the league…

  • Jeff Francis can opt out of his minor league contract with the Reds on March 28th, but he told reporters (including John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer) that he will report to Triple-A if he doesn't make the team.
  • MLB.com's Todd Zolecki hears that the Phillies have been looking for infield help lately, but no one seems to be a clear upgrade over Freddy Galvis. The Phightin's lost utility man Michael Martinez due to a broken bone in his foot today.
  • Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com wrote about all of the Athletics roster turnover. "You do know your time is limited here," said Brandon McCarthy. "You're not looking to put down roots."
  • Joe Torre is waiting to see what happens with the Dodgers' ownership situation before returning to his old job at MLB, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Torre's group bowed out of the bidding because of the parking situation at Dodger Stadium.
  • “I think that we as a franchise have a chance to go through sort of an evolutionary process to get us back to where we want to be,” said Mets GM Sandy Alderson to Andrew Keh of The New York Times in the wake of the team's recent financial moves. "From just an overall, organization standpoint, the landscape today is a lot brighter than it was two or three days ago, going into a potential three-week trial."

NL Central Notes: Chapman, Francis, Punto, Heredia

Let's continue our tour of the divisions with news from the NL Central…

  • "The Reds’ handling of Aroldis Chapman is beginning to resemble Joba Chamberlain 2.0," writes Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Cincinnati is leaning towards using Chapman as a reliever this season but Passan argues that a pitcher with Chapman's potential should be given the chance to start and not worry about being shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen.  Another note from the piece is that Chapman's velocity is down to the 92-95 mph range this spring, but Chapman has been pleased with his improved command and his new pitch, a splitter.
  • Like Chapman, Jeff Francis has pitched well this spring but may not find a spot in the Reds rotation, prompting ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) to consider Francis an "affordable alternative for teams in the John Lannan hunt."  Francis signed a minor league deal with the Reds that contains an opt-out clause for March 28 that he could exercise if he doesn't think he'll find a job in Cincinnati.  (In regards to Lannan, he could be off the trade market altogether given Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury today.)
  • Nick Punto told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that his top two offseason options were the Cardinals and Red Sox, but the Cards never made him a contract offer.
  • Astros minor leaguer Angel Heredia has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Associated Press.  Heredia, a right-handed pitcher, played for Houston's Dominican Summer League team.


NL Central Links: Marshall, McCutchen, Francis

The Reds finalized a three-year, $16.5MM contract extension with Sean Marshall earlier today, so now let's check in on the latest from the NL Central…

  • Marshall will earn $4.5MM in 2013, $5.5MM in 2014, and $6.5MM in 2015 according to the AP (via John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer on Twitter). The southpaw can earn $1MM more per year if he closes for the Reds.
  • “We’re obviously very excited about it,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty to reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon) about Marshall's deal. “When we made the trade for him, we made it intending to extend him. We felt confident we would do that. We wanted to approach it sooner than later.”
  • The Pirates are still willing to work out a long-term extension with Andrew McCutchen, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. McCutchen's camp is looking for something close to the $51MM given to Justin Upton while the club is coming in around $10MM below that.
  • Jeff Francis told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that his final decision came between the Reds and Mets (Twitter link). The southpaw signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati last month.
  • "We saw this coming years ago," said Pirates team president Frank Coonelly to Biertempfel when asked about the new draft spending restrictions. "We pushed money up to make sure we'd be taking advantage of opportunities we had last year and the year before."

Quick Hits: Francis, Cespedes, CBA

A few stray items to pass along as the night winds down …

  • Jeff Francis, who agreed to terms with the Reds on a minor league deal, can earn a base salary of $1.5MM if he makes the big league club, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The deal could be worth as much as $3.25MM with incentives and includes a March 28 opt-out clause, reports Crasnick (Twitter links).
  • The Orioles remain interested in signing Yoenis Cespedes, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, and will send a contingent to further scout the Cuban free agent in next week's Carribean Series in the Dominican Republic.
  • Several general managers of small- and mid-market clubs are concerned the new labor agreement has furthered the divide between baseballs haves and have-nots, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com. In particular, the greater the number of teams that continue to shell out massive contracts, the more it encourages players on small-market clubs to refrain from signing extensions prior to free agency.
  • Brad Lidge told the Phillies he wanted to stay in Philly, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN, but they apparently had no interest in retaining the right-hander. We heard earlier today that the Phils made a "lowball" offer to Lidge, who instead agreed to terms with the Nats.
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes appeared on Tuesday's BP Podcast with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. You can download the mp3 or listen through iTunes.

Reds, Francis Agree To Minor League Deal

The Reds have agreed to sign free agent left-hander Jeff Francis to a minor league deal, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The 31-year-old is represented by Frontline Sports Management.

Last week it was reported that Francis was gaining interest from clubs, including the Reds, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Mets. The Cubs were also linked to the veteran before the New Year.

Francis spent 2011 with the Royals, posting a 4.82 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 across 31 starts.  His 183 innings of work was his highest total since 2007, the season before he suffered a shoulder injury which required surgery and caused him to miss the entire 2009 campaign.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) first reported that the two sides were nearing an agreement.


Reds, Francis Close To Deal

The Reds are close to signing free agent left-hander Jeff Francis to a minor league deal, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Last week it was reported that Francis was gaining interest from clubs, including the Reds, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Mets.

Francis spent 2011 with the Royals, posting a 4.82 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 across 31 starts.  His 183 innings of work last season was his highest total since 2007, the season prior to suffering a shoulder injury.


Quick Hits: Lincecum, Red Sox, Gordon, Francis

Friday night links..

  • The Giants and the agent for Tim Lincecum have made significant progress since exchanging arbitration figures and both sides are confident that a resolution can be reached before a hearing would be scheduled, writes Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.
  • The Reds could look to land an infielder via trade, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • It appears that talks between the Rockies and Red Sox regarding Marco Scutaro are dormant, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes that Boston's possible motivation for a move involving Scutaro would be to free up payroll.  The club has reportedly expressed interest in White Sox starter Gavin Floyd and free agent outfielder Cody Ross, but neither move could be made unless a trade was made to offer budgetary relief according to a source.
  • The Royals and Alex Gordon aren't particularly close on a deal but talks remain cordial and both sides want to get something done, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
  • Left-hander Jeff Francis is starting to attract more interest from teams in the market for a starting pitcher including the Mariners, Reds, Blue Jays, and Mets, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter links)
  • Jesus Montero has dealt with his visa issue and is scheduled to travel from Florida to Seattle today for his Mariners physical, tweets Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren doesn't believe that his club has a major personnel need, writes Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Wren also believes that this year's bullpen figures to be even deeper that last year's.
  • Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post (via Twitter) is told that the Marlins have no interest in bringing Ivan Rodriguez back.

Rockies May Not Have Budget Space For Millwood

The Rockies offered Kevin Millwood a guaranteed $1MM prior to acquiring Kevin Slowey at the Winter Meetings, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  The Millwood offer included approximately $1MM more in incentives, but the 37-year-old righty sought $3MM guaranteed.  With Slowey having agreed to a $2.75MM salary, Renck says the Rockies have little room in the budget for Millwood.

The Rockies have not ruled out Millwood, but their budget for veteran starting pitching depth doesn't seem to have much flexibility.  It'd be surprising to see Millwood score $3MM guaranteed on the strength of nine big league starts, but he does have baseball's toughest agent in Scott Boras.

The Rockies are not currently pursuing a reunion with free agent lefty Jeff Francis, writes Renck.  As of right now, all projected members of the Rockies' 2012 rotation are under 30.


Quick Hits: Beltran, Wren, Padres, Marshall

Cornelius Alexander "Connie" Mack was born on this day in 1862.  After an 11-year playing career, Mack went on to become the manager and co-owner of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901 and was a fixture in the A's dugout for the next half-century.  Between his 50 years with the A's (and three years managing the Pirates from 1894-96), Mack won five World Series titles and compiled a 3731-3948 record.  Needless to say, Mack's records for managerial wins and losses will never be broken.

Some news from around the majors…

  • The Indians made "an aggressive" two-year contract offer to Carlos Beltran worth "very close" to the $26MM Beltran received from the Cardinals, a source tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  • The Braves have been rather quiet this offseason but "the fact is we like our team," GM Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  "We continue to have some conversations,” Wren said.  “We’d have liked to have gotten something done in November in some areas, but just weren’t the matches….We’re continuing to work different options. This was not a good free-agent year, not a lot of players that impacted teams, especially in the areas we would like to get better in.”  Wren said the Braves may wait to see how their players perform during Spring Training before deciding if they need to bring in some new acquisitions.
  • The Padres still have around $7-$9MM to spend this winter, observes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune as part of his weekly chat with fans. 
  • Center also discusses Anthony Rizzo trade rumors, citing the Rays and Cubs as the most interested parties.  Center thinks teams who miss out on Prince Fielder (such as possibly the Mariners and Orioles) could look at Rizzo as well.
  • The Reds will use Sean Marshall as a setup man, not as a closer, once their deal with the Cubs is finalized, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Fay also wonders if the Reds are working out a contract extension with Marshall, as the price of Travis Wood plus two prospects seems high for a reliever who is only under control through 2012.
  • The Mariners are still interested in Jeff Francis, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Seattle wants a veteran like Francis for the rotation to serve as a bridge for the team's young pitchers.  We heard about the Mariners' interest in Francis earlier this month, and the Twins, Pirates, Cubs and Rockies have also been linked to the Canadian left-hander.
  • Patrick Ebert of Perfect Game runs down the 10 biggest stories that emerged from this year's amateur draft.
  • Former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez told Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio (as reported by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro) that he didn't agree with Miami's signing of Jose Reyes.  "You already have an All-Star shortstop, why spend money on another All-Star shortstop?" Rodriguez asked.  "Why not put the money into another player, like Albert Pujols or a front-line pitcher?”  Rodriguez also wondered how "a very proud player" like Hanley Ramirez would handle switching positions and having Reyes be the center of media attention in Miami.
  • The Giants haven't spent much to address their lack of hitting this winter, writes Fangraphs' Wendy Thurm.