Jeff Francoeur Rumors
The trade that sent Vernon Wells from Toronto to Anaheim was the “Holy Grail” of deals for the Blue Jays and the best move of the winter, writes Jon Heyman of SI.com. Jose Bautista's five-year, $65MM contract places second on Heyman's list of teams' top offseason moves. As Heyman says, Bautista could have been in position to earn $100MM or more as a free agent after the season if the Blue Jays hadn't signed him long-term. Here are the rest of Heyman's rumors:
- Royals GM Dayton Moore is pleased with Jeff Francoeur's production so far and says the outfielder does a lot of things well, though he “doesn't have a knack for getting on base.” As I showed last week, the Royals are getting lots out of their free agent acquisitions so far in 2011.
- Can Milton Bradley find another job? Five MLB executives expressed at least strong doubt about Bradley's future job prospects in the Major Leagues. His fading offense and poor defense don't make up for the distractions he creates, which led one exec to predict that the outfielder's “career is over” now that Seattle designated him for assignment. Others expect Bradley to get one last chance.
- It's early, but Heyman suggests the White Sox, Tigers and A's look like possibilities for Carlos Beltran this summer. Beltran has a no-trade clause and is impressing scouts early on this season.
- The Red Sox and Blue Jays could be interested in catcher Jordan Weems, a high schooler who is moving up some draft boards.
- Heyman hears that it's “highly unlikely” that the Red Sox would be willing to meet the Mets' asking price for Jose Reyes this summer.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's dive in...
- Ned Colletti is under contract as Dodgers GM through 2012, but he has an out-clause after that. MLB is unlikely to stand in the way if another team asks to interview him before then though.
- The consensus is that the Cubs need to show some progress if GM Jim Hendry is going to keep his job beyond this season. The team's 14-17 start already has some in the game speculating about possible successors, which might include Colletti, former Diamondbacks GM and current Padres executive Josh Byrnes, and White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn. If the ChiSox are worried about losing Hahn, Rosenthal says they could promote him to GM and promote Kenny Williams to club president.
- Most expect the White Sox to "snap out of it," but if not, they could be a team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. One GM said Williams is not the type to "sit there in no man's land," so expect some rumblings about free agents to be Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson. Some believe Buehrle would only accept a trade to the Cardinals though.
- Their most intriguing chips are John Danks and Carlos Quentin, who are under team control as arbitration-eligible players in 2012. Danks could bring a significant return.
- The Royals could be quite busy if they remain in contention. The Zack Greinke trade and Gil Meche's retirement freed up significant cash, and the team could be both buyers and sellers. Wilson Betemit is expendable because of top prospect Mike Moustakas, possibly to the Marlins, and they could look to deal either Jeff Francoeur or Melky Cabrera. One thing they will need in return: bullpen reinforcements. The Kansas City bullpen is throwing a ton of innings.
There are lots of reasons to be excited for the future of the Royals and one of them will make his Major League debut tonight: Eric Hosmer. The first base prospect will join a team that’s been surprisingly good so far in 2011 (they’re 17-14), one that appears poised to become a playoff contender once its highly-touted prospects become Major Leaguers.
It’s never all about the future, even with rebuilding teams like the Royals. Managers need players to pencil into the lineup and fans need something to cheer for, so general managers sign stop-gap players to represent the big league club while prospects develop.
So far, the four veterans GM Dayton Moore signed this offseason are more than earning their keep. Jeff Francoeur has eight homers and a .305/.346/.602 line (it’s not BABIP-inflated, either) and Melky Cabrera has a .293/.317/.466 line after yesterday’s three-hit game. They've both been pleasant surprises for the league's best offense.
On the pitching side, Jeff Francis has a 5.45 ERA (3.73 xFIP) in 29 2/3 innings with a strong 21K/8BB ratio. Fellow southpaw Bruce Chen has a 3.59 ERA (4.54 xFIP) through 42 2/3 innings with a 24K/14BB ratio. Neither pitcher replaces Zack Greinke atop the rotation, but they’re healthy and productive at the very least. The quartet of Francis, Chen, Francoeur and Cabrera has been worth a combined 2.5 wins above replacement so far, yet another indication that they're producing.
Moore signed the four players for a total of $7.75MM and didn’t give up a single draft pick in the process. It’s a promising development for Royals fans since every homegrown team needs to supplement its core players with free agents at times. Moore’s track record on the free agent market includes its share of blemishes - Jose Guillen for example - but this year his approach has produced strong results for minimal cost.
Let's take a look at some items related to the Junior Circuit..
- A rival executive described the Royals' young talent as "an embarrassment of riches" to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- Speaking of Kansas City, Jonah Keri of Fangraphs examines the one-year, $2.5MM deal given to Jeff Francoeur. Even though the deals given to Francoeur and fellow outfielder Melky Cabrera (one-year, $1.25MM) are puzzling for many reasons, Keri notes that the one-year deals don't block any of the club's prospects.
- The Red Sox are hopeful that Andrew Miller will resurrect his career after signing a minor league deal with the club this winter writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. According to Miller's agent, the lefty recieved big league offers from three other teams but preferred the BoSox.
- Two ex-Mariners, Endy Chavez and Brett Tomko, are looking to make it back to the majors with the Rangers, writes Kirby Arnold of The Daily Herald.
- Now in Texas, Mike Napoli says that he knew that the Angels would trade one of their talented catchers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Halos had a glut at the position with Napoli, Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, and Hank Conger waiting in the wings.
- White Sox veteran Omar Vizquel Is a reminder of what might have been for the M's, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- The Pirates are likely still in search of two lefties out of the 'pen, writes Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Royals announced they've reached an agreement with outfielder Jeff Francoeur on a one-year deal with a 2012 mutual option. Francoeur will receive a $2.5MM guarantee with another $500K in incentives, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The option is worth $3MM. The match comes as no surprise, with Royals GM Dayton Moore showing longstanding interest and also a tendency to acquire players who played for his former employer.
Francoeur, 27 in January, hit .249/.300/.383 overall in 503 plate appearances this year for the Mets and Rangers but did have a nice 56 PA Texas stint. Francoeur was once an up-and-comer with the Braves, hitting 29 home runs as a 22-year-old. The Dodgers, Indians, Rockies, and Phillies were also linked to Francoeur, who is represented by Molly Fletcher at Career Sports.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted a deal was close.
11:31am: The Royals will announce a deal with Francoeur later today, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
10:26am: The Royals are getting close on a deal with outfielder Jeff Francoeur, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He says it's a one-year deal and a club option is possible. The match comes as no surprise, with Royals GM Dayton Moore showing longstanding interest and also a tendency to acquire players who played for his former employer.
Francoeur, 27 in January, hit .249/.300/.383 overall in 503 plate appearances this year for the Mets and Rangers but did have a nice 56 PA Texas stint. Francoeur was once an up-and-comer with the Braves, hitting 29 home runs as a 22-year-old.
Like many clubs, the Royals are seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder. They're considering multiple ex-Braves, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Consitution: Jeff Francoeur, Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera, and Andruw Jones. Diaz, of course, was with the Royals first.
The Dodgers could sign a right-handed hitting outfielder this week, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, and they've looked at Matt Diaz, Jeff Francoeur, and Bill Hall. Pure speculation: perhaps Austin Kearns and Scott Hairston will come up as well. The Dodgers could make Xavier Paul available after signing an outfielder, tweets Morosi.
MLB.com's Ken Gurnick first reported the Dodgers' interest in Diaz yesterday; he has many suitors and may sign this week. I assume the Rockies are now out on Hall after signing Ty Wigginton; his other known suitor is the Yankees. The Rockies, Royals, and Phillies have been linked to Francoeur.
We've heard that Ty Wigginton is the Rockies' top target for a right-handed bat, but the club has other targets for that role, as well as interest in several other players, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Let's go over some of them:
- Jorge Cantu is one alternative to Wigginton, despite a miserable second half to the 2010 season. GM Dan O'Dowd acknowledged that they'd prefer someone who can play in the outfield, but that's not critical.
- The Rockies have soured on Josh Willingham due to Washington's asking price and concerns over the 31-year-old's knee. They've also called about Jeff Francoeur, believing he could handle first base.
- Colorado would have interest in Rich Harden in a bullpen role, if the righty would be willing to make the switch from starting pitching. There's also the question of whether or not the injury-prone Harden could hold up physically. Renck says the Rox have tried to acquire Harden numerous times in the past, but to no avail.
- Colorado is also looking at Kevin Gregg, Bobby Jenks, Brian Fuentes, Jesse Crain, and Pedro Feliciano, though the first three prefer to close, which won't happen in Denver.
- The Rockies also haven't closed the door on Joe Beimel, who tells Renck he'd love to come back to Colorado.
The Royals and Phillies have picked up the pace on free agent outfielder Jeff Francoeur, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark. The Rockies are also in on Francoeur. All three suitors were already known from past reports.