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Jeff Francoeur Rumors
Major League Baseball has ruled that Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz is ineligible to sign until February 2014, Ben Badler of Baseball America reports. Diaz had claimed to be born in January 1990, which would make him 23 and would mean MLB teams wouldn't be restricted by their international bonus pools in their attempts to sign him. Earlier media reports indicate that he is actually 22. A 22-year-old Cuban player would still have to sign under the bonus pool system. Ten teams were reported to have interest in Diaz. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The White Sox's Jake Peavy says he wanted to ask the team if he could pitch for the big league club on Sunday, though he would have been denied, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. Peavy, who's been sidelined with a rib injury, will join the Sox's Double-A club on Wednesday if he's still feeling good at that time, Gonzales says. If he's healthy, Peavy could be a trade chip at the July 31 deadline.
- Bartolo Colon is defying the odds yet again this season with the Athletics, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Colon currently has a 2.69 ERA with 4.9 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 120 1/3 innings despite his age (40) and the fact that he was suspended last season for testing positive for testosterone. Common sense suggested that, without the use of PEDs, Colon couldn't keep pitching well, but the A's took a chance on Colon, signing him for $3MM plus bonuses. "Our organization thought he would be very similar based on what they saw in winter ball," says A's manager Bob Melvin. "He was throwing with the same velocity he does right now, the same movement. It was an easy sign for us and we did it very quickly, based on what everybody thought he would be like, and certainly he’s been that and more."
- The Giants' signing of Jeff Francoeur is a "lightning-in-a-bottle play," Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com writes. Baggarly compares the acquisition to the Giants' May 2010 signing of Pat Burrell, who had been cast off by the Rays. Baggarly also notes that Francoeur and Kensuke Tanaka, who is making his big-league debut while starting in left field Tuesday night, will mean less playing time for Andres Torres.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Francoeur hit .208/.249/.322 in 193 plate appearances this month, following a down 2012 with an even worse campaign. Amid a resurgent 2011 season, the Royals signed Francoeur to a two-year, $13.5MM extension. They'll be on the hook for the $3.2MM or so remaining on his contract, less the pro-rated league minimum if Francoeur returns to the Majors. There is the expectation that he will join the big league team after getting some ABs and work in in left field, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Francoeur is represented by CSE.
A right-handed hitter, Francoeur hasn't done much damage against lefties since that 2011 season. The Giants still aren't risking much by giving him a shot to contribute in left field; Rosenthal says they figure to use him in a platoon with Andres Torres, with Gregor Blanco manning center field in the absence of the injured Angel Pagan.
Baseball America released its updated rankings of the sport's top 50 prospects, headlined by Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. For Baseball America subscribers, BA's J.J. Cooper also has lists of 10 prospects who missed the top 50 but are still having breakthrough seasons, preseason top-100 prospects who missed the new list, how the thirty preseason top-100 prospects who have already made the Major Leagues are faring and also a look at five organizations who have made strides and five who have struggled.
Here are some items from around the baseball world…
- The Red Sox still have interest in Michael Young, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets, but "serious names have not been discussed" between the Sox and Phillies in trade negotiations.
- The Cubs have reportedly explored extending Matt Garza's contract but CSN Chicago's David Kaplan doesn't believe it and neither does an American League executive. "Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] know that they have a great asset. They will not cave on what they want in return," said the AL exec. "They will play this thing out until they get what they want. He's too valuable to not trade. When you are in a rebuild you need to move assets to fuel the plan. Garza should help to do that. I'd be stunned if he is a Cub Aug. 1." (Twitter links here)
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty confirmed that he had spoken to Jeff Francoeur's agents at CSE, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter). "He's talking to other clubs as well. [I'm] not sure it's a fit," Jocketty said. Francoeur is known to have drawn interest from at least two other teams since he was released by the Royals. Francoeur could be a right-handed hitting stopgap for Cincinnati until Ryan Ludwick returns from the DL in August.
- Also from Fay, he thinks the strong recent performance of the Reds' bullpen should shift the team's trade deadline focus to hitting instead of relief pitching. Fay opines that the Reds should look to acquire Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, who I'd guess would be too expensive for the Reds' liking (owed roughly $9.35MM through 2014) and is on the DL until August following knee surgery.
- The Mariners have a number of trade chips on the roster but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times feels the team's toughest decisions will concern Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales. On paper the 41-year-old Ibanez is an obvious candidate to be dealt, though Ibanez's popularity on and off the field in Seattle will make the M's consult him before any possible deal. I examined the case for Morales as a trade candidate back in April.
- Every Major League transaction is a complicated process, and they get even more complex when they have to be made quickly. MLB.com's Corey Brock outlines how the Padres had to move fast to replace the injured Yasmani Grandal, which led to a shakeup of catchers at all levels of the organization and a lot of roster juggling that eventually led to Rene Rivera being called up from Triple-A Tucson to Washington for the next day's game.
Outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who was recently released by the Royals, has interest from three teams, including the Reds, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The exact details of any negotiations are unclear, but a new contract for Francoeur, who was hitting .208/.249/.322 in 2013 after having struggled in 2012, would almost certainly be a minor-league deal. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Roy Oswalt of the Rockies left his start on Sunday with a strained hamstring, leaving Colorado looking for pitching, Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweets. Renck writes that it will be a seller's market for arms, however, making acquiring starting pitching difficult. The Rockies were reported to be interested in Ricky Nolasco before the Marlins dealt him to the Dodgers. While the Rockies are still technically in the playoff race, though, they're five games below .500 and in third place, so it's fair to wonder whether they'll be as motivated to pay heavily for shorter-term upgrades as other teams might be.
- The Giants are unlikely to make dramatic changes despite their recent struggles, Mike Bauman of MLB.com writes. After winning two of the last three World Series, the Giants are currently 40-47. "These are our guys, though," says manager Bruce Bochy. "These guys have done a lot of good things here. You know [the slump] feels like it's been forever, but it's been maybe three weeks. It's getting long, but still, they are our guys and we're going to stay behind them." Bauman notes that Chad Gaudin recently returned to the Giants' rotation and that reliever Santiago Casilla and starter Ryan Vogelsong could soon return from injury as well.
FRIDAY: The Royals have announced, via press release, that they have requested unconditional release waivers on Francoeur.
SUNDAY: The Royals have designated outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The club has recalled second baseman Johnny Giavotella to take Francoeur's roster spot and take over as the regular at the keystone (according to another Dutton tweet).
The oft-criticized Francoeur, 29, has largely been a disappointment since a promising start to his career with the Braves. Francoeur originally signed with Kansas City before the 2011 season, signing a one-year, $2.5MM deal. He delivered a solid campaign that year, slashing .285/.329/.476 and contributing 20 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
Francoeur's work in 2011 led to the Royals giving him a two-year, $13.5MM extension in August of that year. Needless to say, that deal has not panned out for K.C. While Francoeur hit 16 long balls last year, he slashed just .235/.287/.378 as the team's regular right fielder. After the team traded away highly regarded outfield prospect Wil Myers in the offseason, Francoeur remained entrenched in right and continued to struggle this season. His legendary arm was not enough to make up for a .209/.250/.324 line over 192 plate appearances this season. Over the last two seasons, Fangraphs credits Francoeur with costing the Royals 2.2 wins against a replacement level player. The Royals will remain on the hook for the remainder of the $6.75MM they owe Francoeur for this season, assuming they cannot find a taker for his contract.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star recently took the time to answer a vast array of Twitter questions from his followers and write them up in a Q&A. Here are some highlights from the piece…
- No matter how well Danny Duffy pitches in Triple-A as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the team won't part with Ervin Santana if they're in contention. Should they fall out of the race, the Royals would likely make Santana available if they received an offer they deemed more valuable than a compensatory draft pick, suggesting that the Royals are planning on making Santana a qualifying offer this offseason.
- Dutton doesn't get any sense from the Royals organization that general manager Dayton Moore is on a short lease, though he concedes that if the team is struggling at this time next year, that could change.
- Dutton expects the recently DFA'ed Jeff Francoeur to clear waivers and sign with another team as opposed to a trade or Frenchy accepting a minor league assignment.
- It's still not clear if the Royals will be buyers at the deadline, though Dutton expects them to look hard at additions. However, he calls the odds of them making a big move "slim."
- Lefty Noel Arguelles could lose his 40-man roster spot this offseason if the Royals are in need of a roster spot. Kansas City gave the Cuban lefty a five-year, $7MM deal in 2009, but he has produced just a 5.24 ERA in 283 2/3 minor league innings to date. The 23-year-old has more walks than strikeouts in 179 2/3 career innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
The legend of Yasiel Puig added another chapter today as the Cuban phenom went 4-for-5, stole two bases and finished a homer shy of a cycle for the Dodgers in their 6-1 win over the Phillies. Puig collected 44 hits in June, the second-highest hit total in a calendar month for any rookie in MLB history — the only rookie with more hits in a calendar month was a player you might've heard of by the name of Joe DiMaggio. Though the Dodgers are still just 38-43 on the season and in last place in the NL West, they're only four games behind the first place Diamondbacks. Here's the latest from this tightly-packed division…
- The Rockies have already been connected to a few notable pitchers in trade rumors and now Cubs right-hander Scott Feldman can be added to the list, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. That said, the Rockies don't want to give up prospects for "a rental starter who is not going to re-sign" and Feldman is a free agent this winter. MLBTR's Steve Adams noted that Feldman's solid ground-ball rate (50.7%) would make him a good fit at Coors Field as part of a Trade Candidate piece earlier this month.
- The difficulties of pitching at Coors Field make the Rockies "hypersensitive" about trading for pitching, Renck writes.
- If Drew Pomeranz and Roy Oswalt pitch well as starters, Renck reports that the Rockies will cool their search for starters and instead focus on the bullpen. The team is prepared to add payroll but it could resemble their 2009 trades for Rafael Betancourt and Joe Beimel that helped Colorado win the NL Wild Card.
- The mention of Jeff Francoeur's name to Giants executives has drawn "a lot of scrunched faces and worries about his outfield play", Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Francoeur was designated for assignment by the Royals on Saturday and could fit the Giants' rumored desire for a right-handed outfield bat.
- In NL West news from earlier today, the Giants and Diamondbacks are two of the teams scouting White Sox right fielder Alex Rios, the Dodgers designated Matt Guerrier for assignment, the Rockies signed Xavier Nady and Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune shared a collection of Padres notes.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that even though the 2013 Red Sox may not knock your socks off, they could still be extremely effective. In theory, Boston could have used their wiggle room on the likes of Josh Hamilton, Adam LaRoche, and Cody Ross. Instead, the club's shopping spree yielded Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Stephen Drew, and Ryan Dempster. However, the BoSox have set themselves up for bigger things in the long run and they could still be competitive in '13. Here's more from Cafardo..
- The Red Sox, Nationals, Yankees, Orioles, and Brewers had major interest in free agent pitcher Javier Vazquez before knee surgery put his season in jeopardy. “Never say never,” said a major league source close to the hurler, “but we won’t see him in the immediate future.”
- One AL executive cautions not to rule out the Tigers as a major player for the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton when the time comes. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has strong ties to the Marlins from his time with them and may have the chips to get a deal done. Detroit could use third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos, outfielder Avisail Garcia, righty Rick Porcello, and others to entice Miami.
- One NL executive says that he is envious of the position that Robinson Cano finds himself in. “He’s going to have the Yankees and the Dodgers offering him a record amount of money,” said the exec. GM Brian Cashman says he has already offered a “significant” contract, but there's no reason for the Scott Boras client to take the deal when considering how much the Dodgers may be willing to bid.
- Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur had the worst WAR among everyday players last season, but at age 29, he feels that he is just entering his prime. It appears that the Royals would be willing to move him and his strong arm in the outfield could attract interest.
Much-maligned outfielder Jeff Francoeur doesn't blame Royals fans for their criticism of the James Shields / Wil Myers deal, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, even though Myers would likely have taken playing time away from Francoeur himself. “[W]hen we traded Wil — why the heck did we do that? — I sit there and say, ‘As a fan, looking from the outside, I’d lead that criticism.’ For fans, looking from the outside, I don’t blame them," Francoeur says. “I had a terrible year." Francoeur hit .235/.287/.378 in 2012 as the Royals' starter in right field. Here are more notes from throughout the AL Central.
- Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony admits the Twins have made mistakes in their attempts to find middle infielders, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Antony laments the trade of J.J. Hardy to the Orioles and describes Alexi Casilla's tenure with the Twins as "so frustrating." Antony also says the Twins "failed" with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Shortstop Pedro Florimon and second baseman Brian Dozier are next in line to try to stabilize the Twins' middle infield. If Florimon wins the job, he will be the Twins' eighth 2013 Opening Day shortstop in eight years. Minnesota's Opening Day second baseman will be its sixth in seven years.
- After spending 2012 as a reliever, Brett Myers is happy to be part of the Indians' rotation, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Myers, who pitched at least 216 innings in both 2010 and 2011, isn't sure why the Astros used him out of the bullpen. “I still don’t know why. They asked me to do it, and I didn’t want to fight them about it. It was one of those things where you do what’s best for the team,” he says. The Indians signed Myers to a one-year, $7MM deal with a club option, and he's assured a job as a starter.
- Ian Stewart's injured quad complicates his pursuit of the Cubs' third base job, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Stewart will be out for ten to 14 days. His contract isn't guaranteed, and the Cubs could save $1.67MM by cutting Stewart by March 16 and $1.5MM by cutting him prior to Opening Day. Luis Valbuena would likely be in line for Stewart's starting job in such a scenario, and could win playing time over Stewart even if Stewart is healthy.
The Royals, as chronicled by MLBTR's Transaction Tracker, had a busy winter acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis in a blockbluster seven player trade, re-signing Jeremy Guthrie, and dealing for Ervin Santana and his $13MM salary. The Royals haven't reached the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985. Could this be the year the post-season drought comes to an end? Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, in a Twitter Q&A exchange, says the list of things that have to go right for that to occur is shorter than in any season for maybe 20 years. Here are the other highlights from Dutton's weekend sessions:
- Dutton doesn't see the Royals extending Shields during the season and the likelihood of it happening after the season or next year isn't much better. Dutton argues why wouldn't Shields, who the Royals hold a 2014 team option, want to test the free agent market unless overwhelmed with an offer and why would the Royals make an overwhelming offer to a pitcher who will be 33.
- Elliot Johnson, the player to be named later in the Shields-Davis trade, was discussed as the final piece in the deal almost from the beginning. Johnson's inclusion as the PTBNL was announced one week after the Rays designated him for assignment.
- Dutton believes there's a good chance Johnson and Miguel Tejada both make the team as utility infielders, but adds neither is a lock.
- Jeff Francoeur, entering the final year of a two-year, $13.5MM contract extension he signed in August 2011, needs to show increased production to hold his job for the entire season.
- Dutton sees seven to nine guys making the Royals' 2013 Opening Day roster who weren’t with the team a year earlier.