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- Minor MLB Transactions: 7/31/15
- Yankees To Promote Luis Severino
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Jeff Francoeur Rumors
The Padres have signed fourth-round selection Nick Torres, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock (on Twitter). Torres, whose slot was valued at $445K, received a $406.7K bonus and is already DHing for the team’s Arizona Rookie League affiliate tonight. Torres ranked as the No. 117 prospect in the draft per BA, and MLB.com ranked him 109th. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note that Torres was the heart of a strong Cal Poly team and profiles as a corner outfielder that can generate consistently hard contact and has plenty of raw power to tap into.
Here’s more on the Padres…
- The Padres wanted to interview Indians assistant GM Mike Chernoff for their vacant GM slot, but he turned down the opportunity to interview and will remain in Cleveland, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). David Forst of the A’s and Jason McLeod of the Cubs took the same route, Heyman notes.
- Jeff Francoeur, currently enjoying a strong season for the Friars’ Triple-A affiliate, has a rolling opt-out in his contract and could soon leave for a Major League opportunity, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Francoeur’s contract allows him to leave should a team offer him a big league deal, and one source suggested to Cotillo that the Blue Jays have have interest. Frenchy is slashing a healthy .297/.325/.485 with 15 big flies this season, though those numbers have come in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden feels that the Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Reds are good fits for Huston Street and offers his thoughts on what each club would have to surrender in order to pry the potential All-Star away from San Diego (ESPN Insider subscription required). Street, who has a $7MM club option for the 2015 season, has posted a stunning 0.90 ERA with a 32-to-7 K/BB ratio in 30 innings this year.
- The Padres’ decision to extend Seth Smith was simply weird, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. While Smith can more than justify the relatively small investment, his value likely won’t ever be higher, and the Padres probably aren’t going to win during the life of this contract. San Diego hasn’t been able to decide whether it’s rebuilding or pushing for contention in years, Cameron writes, and this move further exemplifies that indecision despite the fact that it came after the team dismissed its GM.
Jason Lane is a former outfielder who’s now a pitcher, and Jeff Francoeur is an outfielder who occasionally pitches. Both of them are with the Padres‘ Triple-A affiliate in El Paso, trying to get back to the Majors, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reports. Lane, the former Astros outfielder, converted to pitching two years ago and is still working on it as a 37-year-old, posting a 4.36 ERA with 3.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 64 innings so far this season. He also pinch-hits. Francoeur, who played for the Royals and Giants last season, is hitting .278/.309/.450 for the Chihuahuas and occasionally taking his turn as a reliever, appearing in six games on the mound so far this season. Kepner notes that Francoeur is “pitching for fun,” so presumably he won’t be looking for a similar role in the Majors. Also, he still has hope as an offensive player. “If I keep hitting like this, I’ve got a chance to go to the Futures Game!” he says. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- At 23-34, the Rays‘ season hasn’t gone as planned, but owner Stuart Sternberg isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet, Bill Chastain of MLB.com writes. Sternberg certainly isn’t ready to commit to selling at the trade deadline — not that there’s much urgency on that front at this point. “[I]f you think you’re in striking distance, and more importantly, if you have confidence in the guys here that they’ve got a good stretch of baseball in them, in a week or two, you look back and you could be in a different position,” he says.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is pleased with the results of a recent trip to Japan with pro scouting coordinator Kevin Goldstein, writes MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Luhnow and Goldstein met with Japanese teams and interviewed candidates for a scouting position in Japan. “[W]e really felt like this is an important first step for us in re-engaging our activity in Japan and hopefully, eventually signing some good Japanese players,” says Luhnow, who says one motivation for the trip was that the Yankees had a scout watching all of Masahiro Tanaka‘s starts in Tanaka’s last two years in Japan.
Francoeur, 30, hit .204/.238/.298 in 256 plate appearances with the Royals and Giants in 2013. He has hit .263/.306/.419 in his nine-year big-league career, but has struggled both offensively and defensively in each of the past two seasons.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league.
- Pitcher Kameron Loe has opted out of his minor-league deal with the Giants, and he's now a free agent, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Loe pitched for the Mariners, Cubs and Braves in 2013, accumulating 20 innings with a 5.85 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
- The Indians have released outfielder Jeff Francoeur, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. They had signed him to a minor-league deal in January. Francoeur, 30, collected 256 plate appearances with the Royals and Giants in 2013, hitting .204/.238/.298. Francoeur has also played with the Braves, Mets and Rangers in his nine-year big-league career.
WEDNESDAY, 8:46pm: Francoeur gets $1MM if he makes the team with a chance to make $500K more based on plate appearances, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
MONDAY, 6:20pm: The Indians have signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor league deal, the team announced in a press release. Francoeur will receive an invitation to the Tribe's Major League Spring Training camp. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported earlier today that the two sides were close to an agreement. Francoeur, who turns 30 on Wednesday, is represented by CSE.
Francoeur hit a combined .204/.238/.298 in 256 PA with the Royals and Giants last season, continuing a two-year slide in production for the veteran outfielder. The right-handed hitting Francoeur has had trouble consistently reaching base and hitting right-handed pitching throughout his career, but he has struggled against both righties and lefties over the last two seasons. If Francoeur could at least regain his form against southpaws, he could provide bench balance to a Cleveland outfield that includes left-handed bats such as Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and David Murphy.
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz continues to draw heavy interest from Major League teams, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Some teams like Diaz, who can't sign until Feb. 19 due to falsifying his age last offseason, as a second baseman. Passan reports that Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Cardinals as teams who have been heavily represented at Diaz's most recent showcases in Mexico (Twitter links). Some more links from around the league…
- Jeff Francoeur, who recently underwent LASIK surgery, is seeking a job as a backup outfielder, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Frenchy will also abandon his use of a 35-ounce bat in 2013 — a weight only utilized by Orioles slugger Chris Davis.
- Felix Pie is nearing an agreement with Korea's Hanwah Eagles, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Pie hasn't seen much big-league action in the last two years, recording just 31 plate appearances in 27 games with the Pirates in 2013.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Royals' offer to Carlos Beltran was slightly less than the Yankees' three-year, $45MM offer but would technically have paid Beltran more due to the tax differences between Missouri and New York.
- The Dodgers have not been involved in negotiations with Omar Infante, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- As they search for starting pitching help, the Orioles will be open to multiyear contracts rather than just one-year deals, GM Dan Duquette confirmed today (Twitter link via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).
- The Twins pursued a catcher before the market dried up, but had no interest in going to three years for any of the free agents they targeted, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota "made that clear from the start," according to Berardino.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along word, in a translated tweet, that Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda has expressed interest in playing in MLB, perhaps as soon as 2015.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
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SATURDAY: The Giants have released Francoeur, according to the MLB.com transactions page. (Thanks to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com for the heads up.)
TUESDAY: The Giants have designated outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment, the team announced via Twitter (hat tip to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). The move (along with a DL trip for Chad Gaudin) will clear 25-man roster space to allow San Francisco to recall pitchers Mike Kickham and Jean Machi. It also opens a 40-man spot, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com notes on Twitter.
Francoeur was inked to a minor league deal by the Giants in July after being released by the Royals. Perhaps hoping for another mid-career resurgence, club and player were left disappointed. During his time in San Francisco, Francoeur posted an anemic .194/.206/.226 line, with no home runs, over 63 plate appearances. The CSE client is still just 29 years old, but has failed to hit at a league-average rate (let alone regain his early-career form) since his 2011 renaissance year in Kansas City.
You can keep an eye on players who have been designated using MLBTR's new DFA Tracker. Francoeur joins Wade LeBlanc of the Astros and Sean O'Sullivan of the Padres among players currently in DFA limbo.
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.