Jeff Francoeur Rumors

Cafardo On Red Sox, Vazquez, Stanton, Cano

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.

Central Notes: Francoeur, Myers, Twins, Cubs

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.

Royals Notes: Shields, Johnson, Tejada, Francoeur

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.


AL Central Notes: Royals, Francoeur, Indians, Perez

News out of the American League Central..

  • The Royals are already $12MM over their stated breaking point, which means that money will be a factor in what moves they make, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  Furthermore, they appear committed to starting the season with Jeff Francoeur in right field, limiting interest in  possible alternatives (Twitter link).
  • The adding of bullpen arms doesn't mean that the Indians are necessarily looking to move Chris Perez, General Manager Chris Antonetti told Glenn Moore of Cleveland.com.  "We didn't look at it that way. I think we just looked at it as an opportunity to just improve our team. And Chris is our closer. As we sit here today, I have every reason to think he’s going to be our closer on Opening Day," said the GM.
  • Tony Paul of The Detroit News looks at trade scenarios for the Tigers' Rick Porcello, including the Pirates, Rangers, and Angels.  Several National League teams including the Padres have been said to have interest in the right-hander.

AL Central Notes: Acta, Myers, Francoeur

Bob Feller made his first Major League start on this day in 1936 and immediately set the tone for his Hall of Fame career.  Feller struck out 15 St. Louis Browns hitters, falling just short of the then-AL record of 16 strikeouts in a game.  Perhaps the most impressive stat from Feller's first start was his age — Rapid Robert was just 17 years old.

Here are some items from Feller's former team in Cleveland and elsewhere in the AL Central…

  • The Indians' roster construction is to blame for the team's recent woes, not manager Manny Acta, opines Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Indians CEO Paul Dolan said today that Acta's job is safe for 2013, as well as the jobs of GM Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro.
  • Brett Myers' $10MM contract option for 2013 will vest if he finishes 45 games this season, but White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin that the team will use Myers in any manner necessary as the club battles for the AL Central title.  Myers currently has 36 games finished, seven since joining the White Sox on July 21.  Addison Reed will finish the majority of games down the stretch as the Sox closer, but Myers figures to be the backup closing option should Reed get injured or become ineffective.
  • Royals officials tell Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that Wil Myers might not be called up this season so the Royals can avoid having to protect him (and leave someone else unprotected) in the Rule 5 draft.  Two team officials also think Myers may yet not quite be ready for Major League pitching, despite his .927 OPS in 388 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
  • With Myers in Triple-A, Jeff Francoeur is still the incumbent right fielder.  Dutton reports that the Royals would like to deal Francoeur but aren't willing to do so in a salary dump or for a negligible return.

Crasnick On Athletics, Broxton, Francoeur

The latest rumors from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick…

  • The Athletics have discussed Jimmy Rollins and Chase Headley as possible upgrades for the left side of their infield, Crasnick reports (Twitter links). However, Rollins' salary would be difficult to fit into Oakland's budget and the Padres' asking price for Headley remains high. The A's seem lukewarm on Yunel Escobar, Crasnick writes. They aren't sure how he'd fit in their clubhouse dynamic. 
  • Jonathan Broxton is the most likely Royal to be traded, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (all Twitter links). The Royals want young starting pitching for Broxton, and they’re looking for pitchers who are close to MLB-ready — not Class A types. 
  • Meanwhile, Jeff Francoeur’s trade value is negligible because he’s not producing at the plate.

AL Central Links: Tigers, Royals, White Sox

It's possible that tonight was the last start Francisco Liriano will make as a member of the Twins. Liriano entered with a 2.84 ERA with a 10.9 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 since May 30, but was shelled for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Here are some links surrounding the division…


Bowden On Padres, Tigers, Indians, Royals, Pirates

Here's the latest from around the league, courtesy of ESPN's Jim Bowden

  • The Padres have fielded offers for both Huston Street and Carlos Quentin, but they've yet to seriously debate any of them internally.
  • The Tigers are seeking a second base upgrade and would like to acquire Darwin Barney from the Cubs for a mid-level prospect.
  • The Indians are looking all over to acquire an outfield bat, but they are unable to take back a significant contract and are unwilling to move their best prospects.
  • Meanwhile, the Royals are trying to convince the Indians or Reds to take Jeff Francoeur so they can promote Wil Myers from Triple-A.
  • The Pirates are aggressively trying to land a middle of the order bat while the Orioles are seeking starting pitching and a third base upgrade.
  • There have been rumors of a Mike Morse for B.J. Upton trade, according to Bowden. The Nationals are also looking to add a starter with Stephen Strasburg's innings limit approaching.
  • The Giants have no plans of making a deal similar to the one they made last year, when they traded Zack Wheeler for a rental (Carlos Beltran). They are looking for a bat or two, however.

Quick Hits: Byrd, Royals, Youk, Padres Sale

Marlon Byrd was suspended for 50 games today after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, according to MLB's official PR department (on Twitter). Byrd issued the following statement:

“I made an inexcusable mistake. Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test. Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance enhancement reasons. I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do. I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a Club win later this season.”

Here are some additional links for your Monday evening…

  • Royals general manager Dayton Moore told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he has received zero calls on Jeff Francoeur, Bruce Chen, and Jonathan Broxton (Twitter link).
  • Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets that the reason the Red Sox didn't get more for Kevin Youkilis is because some offers from interested parties simply stated that they would take Youkilis "for nothing," if the Sox were willing to pick up the entire contract.
  • The imminent sale of the Padres could have a positive impact on the Mariners, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The sale price is said to be $800MM — $600MM for the Padres and $200MM for a stake in their upcoming $1.2 billion TV deal with FOX. The Mariners can opt out of their current TV deal in 2015, and could be sitting on top of a "financial windfall," writes Baker. He writes that Mariners "should be able to get more in any pending sale if everything remains equal."
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that yesterday's Youkilis trade has kicked off the trade season, and runs through some big names that could be trade candidates at this year's deadline.

Royals Sending Mixed Signals On Francoeur

The Royals' willingness to trade Jeff Francoeur has fluctuated greatly in recent weeks, major league sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  An official with another club termed their interest in moving the veteran as "back and forth, every other week."

Francoeur should draw even more interest once Kevin Youkilis is traded as clubs looking for right-handed hitting could turn to the Royals rightfielder instead.  Kansas City is within striking distance in the AL Central but strong play from prospect Wil Myers could motivate the club to move the 28-year-old.

Unsurprisingly, Morosi hears that Francoeur is more available than Billy Butler, who is on a longer-term contract  One source said Kansas City would need a "[Zack] Greinke-type" offer in order to part with Butler.