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Juan Francisco Rumors
Nippon Professional Baseball’s Yomiuri Giants have announced the signing of third baseman Juan Francisco to a one-year contract, The Japan Times reports. Francisco will receive 140 million yen (or roughly $1.17MM) in the deal.
Francisco hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 homers in 320 plate appearances with the Blue Jays last season, though most of that production came early in the season — Francisco posted a .961 OPS over his first 126 PA and just a .613 OPS in his other 194. He also struck out 116 times in 2014, and his 36.3% strikeout rate was the second-highest of any hitter in baseball with at least 300 PA.
This combination of power and strikeouts has defined Francisco’s career, as he has a .236/.297/.439 slash line, 48 homers and 375 strikeouts over his 1091 career PA with the Jays, Brewers, Braves and Reds. He was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox this offseason, non-tendered and then signed to a minor league deal by the Rays before opting out after he didn’t make their Major League roster.
Francisco, who signed with the Rays in January, hit .220/.291/.456 in 320 plate appearances with the Blue Jays in 2014, offering his usual blend of plus power but weak contact ability and defense. The Rays attempted to assign him to Triple-A Durham on Friday, but Francisco’s contract allowed him to opt out today.
Here’s a roundup of some 40-man roster news as teams decide who will break camp for Opening Day….
- The Diamondbacks have announced (via Twitter) that Archie Bradley, Gerald Laird, and Jordan Pacheco have made the roster. Bradley, a top prospect, will join the rotation. Laird will serve as the backup catcher while Pacheco will probably take on a super utility role that includes some catching.
- The Astros have selected the contract of Roberto Hernandez, per the MLB transactions page. The right-handed sinker specialist has a 4.60 ERA in 1,264 innings. He split the 2014 season between the Phillies and Dodgers.
- The Dodgers have released right-handed pitcher Barry Enright, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Enright is a veteran of four major league seasons, although he struggled at the top level. He owns a 5.57 ERA, 4.60 K/9, and 3.15 BB/9 in 148 innings.
- The Nationals will select the contract of outfielder Clint Robinson, reports Chelsea Janes of the Washington Times. Robinson, 30, is a career minor leaguer with just 14 major league plate appearances. In 1,771 Triple-A plate appearances, he’s hit .303/.392/.494. Janes also notes that the club is almost certain to retain second baseman Dan Uggla. He’s one of just five healthy infielders with the club.
- The Blue Jays have opted to roster eight relievers for the start of the season with Liam Hendriks making the cut, writes Sean Farrell of MLB.com. The righty appeared for the Jays and Royals last season. He has a career 5.92 ERA in 188 innings. Second baseman Ryan Goins was optioned in a corresponding move.
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that utility man Pedro Ciriaco and pitcher Cody Martin will probably make the team. Ciriaco is a career .270/.299/.372 hitter over 498 plate appearances split over five seasons. The pair were added at the expense of outfielder Todd Cunningham and pitcher Michael Foltynewicz.
- Also making the Atlanta roster is pitcher Eric Stults, writes Bowman. The soft-tossing lefty has a solid big league career with a 4.12 ERA, 5.69 K/9, and 2.53 BB/9. His best season came with the Padres in 2013 when he pitched 203 innings with a 3.93 ERA.
- The Yankees have selected the contract of infielder Gregorio Petit, reports Chad Jennings of LoHud. Petit, 30, is a career .278/.301/.391 hitter in 156 plate appearances.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says Anthony Bass will travel with the club to Oakland, reports Stefan Stevenson (via Twitter). He’ll make the team barring a last minute acquisition. The 27-year-old reliever struggled with the Astros last season. In 27 innings, he allowed a 6.33 ERA with 2.33 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9.
- The Phillies have selected the contracts of right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez and left-handed reliever Cesar Jimenez, the team announced on Twitter. Gomez owns a career 4.41 ERA with 5.23 K/9 and 3.14 BB/9. He pitched well this spring in 12 and two-thirds innings, allowing a 0.71 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk. Jimenez is familiar with the Phillies as he’s bounced between Philadelphia and Triple-A over the past two seasons. In 81 innings, he has a career 4.32 ERA with 6.09 K/9 and 3.09 BB/9.
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Free agency is fun for those of us on the outside to follow, but that’s not necessarily the case for the players themselves. Tim Britton of The Providence Journal kept tabs on now two former members of the Red Sox throughout their free agent process, David Ross and Burke Badenhop. While Ross found a home with the Cubs before Christmas, Badenhop had to wait a little while longer for his deal with the Reds. More from the AL East..
- The most likely scenario in the Cubs/Joe Maddon tampering case is that no evidence will be found to support the Rays‘ claims, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
- Juan Francisco‘s minor league deal with the Rays includes an April 5th opt-out and a salary of $2MM (plus incentives) if he makes the team, according to Topkin. Francisco, 28 in June, spent 2014 with the Blue Jays, where he hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 home runs in 320 plate appearances.
- Mitchell Boggs can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox if he isn’t on the big league club by April 4th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford believes that the former Cardinals closer could wind up not only making the big league roster, but becoming a valuable piece in the pen. Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox signed Boggs with every intention of having him on the varsity squad. “They communicated with me early in the offseason that it was a major league-type opportunity,” Boggs explained. “It wasn’t depth for the entire year. It was a situation where they wanted me to come in and compete and try to make this team. That’s what I care about.”
- Most of the Yankees‘ moves for young power arms, starting with the signing of free agent Andrew Miller, were made to build a deep bullpen. But, the trade of win-now infielder Martin Prado for Nathan Eovaldi signaled a willingness to gamble on the starting rotation as well, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. If all goes according to plan, the Yankees could have one of the younger starting rotations in baseball with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova. The question marks about their injuries and inconsistency could have made guys like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields to be solid fits, but the Yanks decided instead to play it smart for the long-term.
- Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley thought for several days that he would be traded to the Marlins or Rangers before he wound up in Boston, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweets. Miley first learned that he was headed to the Red Sox when he saw the news on TV.
- With or without permission from St. Petersburg, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he’ll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022, Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
Francisco, 28 next season, spent 2014 with the Blue Jays, where he hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 home runs in 320 plate appearances. While the power was a positive, shaky defense and a 36.3% strikeout rate are two very big holes in his game. He is best used as a left-handed platoon bat. Last season against right-handers, he compiled a useful .238/.306/.504 line. Southpaws held him to a dreadful .116/.204/.186 performance. His career splits are nearly as extreme, which highlights his obvious role.
He has also appeared with the Brewers, Braves, and Reds. Francisco seems likely to serve as depth behind fellow left-handed hitter John Jaso.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. We’ll run down the list of American League non-tenders here, and update it as reports come in. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR’s Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates (in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Also important for reference is the set of arbitration salary projections from MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Click here for an explanation of the process, and be sure to check out this piece featuring some interesting observations from Tim regarding non-tender considerations.
- Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, and David Huff have all been non-tendered by the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
- The Twins have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link).
- Third baseman Carlos Rivero is the only non-tender for the Mariners, the club announced. Rivero was not yet arbitration eligible.
- The Astros have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.
- The Royals have non-tendered lefty Francisley Bueno, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
- As expected, the Tigers have offered arbitration to all eligible players, Anthony Fench of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
- The Athletics have declined to offer arbitration to Kyle Blanks and Andrew Brown, the team announced. Both had previously been designated for assignment. Oakland will retain control over the remainder of its eligible players, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- As with several other clubs, the Rays will proceed without any non-tenders, the club announced (per a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
- Likewise, the Orioles have tendered contracts to each of their eleven arb-eligible players, the team announced.
- The Indians have tendered contracts to all five eligible players, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Cleveland had a fairly straightforward group. Indeed, Dierkes did not list any players as reasonable NT candidates.
- Scott Snodgress and Scott Carroll have been non-tendered by the White Sox, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. Both players were pre-arbitration eligible, meaning that Chicago could have renewed them at the MLB minimum.
- The Red Sox have non-tendered third baseman Juan Francisco but will otherwise tender contracts to all eligible players, the club announced (h/t to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, via Twitter). Francisco had already been designated for assignment, making this one of the day’s least surprising moves.
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The Red Sox announced that they have designated corner infielder Juan Francisco for assignment. The move clears roster space for Hanley Ramirez, whose deal has now been officially announced by the team.
Francisco’s tenure with the BoSox was brief, to put it lightly. Boston claimed the lefty slugger off waivers from the Blue Jays not one week ago, but the addition of Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to the roster left little room for Francisco on the roster.
The 27-year-old Francisco possesses serious pop from the left side of the dish, as evidenced by his lifetime .203 isolated power mark (slugging minus average) and the even more impressive .236 figure that he posted with Toronto in 2014. However, for all of thunder Francisco can bring to a lineup, he’s fanned in more than 34 percent of his career plate appearances, he’s regarded as a below-average defender at third and he’s struggled against lefties throughout his career. Francisco’s .248/.310/.476 batting line against righties is impressive, but those totals drop to just .159/.213/.210 against southpaws.
Francisco was projected to earn $2.2MM in arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. A team with a need at third base or for a left-handed bench bat could show interest in him, but they’d be on the hook for roughly that projected amount in 2015 should they acquire Francisco via waivers or in a trade with the Red Sox.
The Red Sox have claimed Juan Francisco off waivers from the Blue Jays, Boston announced today. Francisco, 27, had been noted as a non-tender candidate by MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk, and obviously was headed in that direction before the move by the Jays to expose him to the wire.
Francisco is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to take home a $2.2MM payday through arbitration. Boston still has time to determine whether it will go down that path, of course, but obviously his power left-handed bat holds enough appeal that the team decided to open the possibility.
Last year, Francisco posted a fairly typical .220/.291/.456 slash over 320 plate appearances for the Jays, swatting 16 home runs in the process. That is rare power in this day and age, especially for a player who is capable of playing third base. But Francisco’s strikeout issues — he was second-worst in the league, 300 PA minimum — have shown no signs of abating. And his defense at the hot corner has generally drawn substandard reviews.
The timing of the move is somewhat interesting, of course, given that Boston is said to be hotly pursuing free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who also hits from the left (and right) side. But the two players profile quite differently, needless to say, and Francisco looks more like a platoon or bench option — particularly given his extremely poor splits against lefties — if the team is unable to consummate a deal with the high-dollar Sandoval.
In an appearance on WAAF’s Hill-Man Morning Show, Jon Lester explained recent comments that he wouldn’t necessarily go to the highest bidder this offseason (via WEEI’s Rob Bradford). “…I don’t need to go to the highest bidder if that isn’t going to make me happy,” said Lester. “I’m not going to just take the highest bid, the money, the most years just because it’s in front of you. … I make decisions based on me and my family and is this place — whether it’s Boston or one of the other 29 teams – is this place going to be good for me and my family?” Lester did note that he could still end up signing the highest bidder, of course, but the happiness of his family will be the top priority. Lester also repeated that he doesn’t have any hard feelings toward the Red Sox, and he discussed his farewell to owner John Henry as well.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos appeared on Sportsnet 590 The Fan with Mike Wilner and Ben Ennis today, and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith provides some of the highlights. Of particular note was the fact that Anthopoulos said top prospect Daniel Norris could be a factor out of the team’s bullpen in September if he continues to pitch well. The 21-year-old Norris has skyrocketed up prospect rankings this year on the heels of a 2.25 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 108 innings across Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A.
- Nicholson-Smith also writes that the Blue Jays have made several waiver claims this month, but none have resulted in the acquisition of a new player. The team isn’t expected to make a trade today, but it will need to clear a roster spot for the returning Edwin Encarnacion. Nicholson-Smith notes that the Jays are willing to cut ties with out-of-options players, and Anthopoulos has expressed some frustration with Juan Francisco‘s strikeout tendencies. However, he adds that the Blue Jays do value Francisco’s left-handed power.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner isn’t committing to bringing back longtime general manager Brian Cashman in 2015, but the Yankee GM tells George A. King III of the New York Post that he’s not bothered by the situation. “That’s the process,” said Cashman, whose contract expires after the 2014 season. “There isn’t much to say at this point. That’s for another day.” Steinbrenner’s comments to King were of a similar nature, as he chose to focus on the season at hand rather than the future of his GM.
- Steinbrenner also says he’s had no recent conversations with Alex Rodriguez, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, but the Yankees are expecting A-Rod to return in 2015 following his 162-game suspension. The 39-year-old former MVP has three years and $61MM remaining on his contract.
After going into the All-Star break on a 2-8 slide, the Blue Jays have righted the ship by winning seven of 10 games since the Midsummer Classic. This hot streak has gotten the Jays back into the postseason picture, as they currently hold a one-game lead over the Yankees for the second AL wild card slot. Here’s the latest hot stove buzz out of Toronto…
- The Phillies specifically scouted a recent rehab start by Jays southpaw prospect Sean Nolin, Rogers Sportnet’s Shi Davidi reports. Nolin was rated as the 97th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America prior to the 2013 season, and he owns a 3.12 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 1.62 K/BB rate over 13 Triple-A starts.
- Also from Davidi’s piece, the Rangers are one of a few clubs who have been sending more scouts to watch the Jays’ short-season Class A team in Vancouver. Righty Miguel Castro, left-hander Jairo Labourt and shortstop Franklin Barreto appear to be drawing the bulk of the scouts’ interest.
- Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is “an option” for the Jays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Cabrera would presumably be a candidate at second base for Toronto since Jose Reyes is locked into the shortstop job; Cabrera saw lots of action at the keystone over the first three years of his career but hasn’t seen any action at 2B since 2009. He is a free agent this winter and is thought to be an expendable piece for the Tribe since top prospect Francisco Lindor is on the way.
- The Padres were willing to pay all of the $4MM that was owed to Chase Headley for the rest of the 2014 season as part of a proposed deal that would’ve sent the third baseman to Toronto, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. An executive familiar with the negotiations between the Padres and Jays tells Elliott that San Diego was asking for Juan Francisco and two “not big-time prospects” in return. Francisco (.242/.313/.529 with 16 homers in 249 PA) is having a much better season than Headley (.238/.300/.371 with eight homers in 330 PA) and comes with three years of control while Headley is a free agent after this season, though Headley has obviously been the more high-profile player in recent years. San Diego ended up dealing Headley to the Yankees for Yangervis Solarte, Rafael De Paula and all but $1MM of Headley’s remaining salary.
- The Blue Jays were one of 28 teams at the Rusney Castillo showcase on Saturday, Shi Davidi tweets, with the Jays sending “multiple people” to check out the Cuban outfielder.