Mike Redmond Rumors

NL East Notes: Gosselin, Kendrick, Billingsley, Lagares, Redmond

Braves infielder Phil Gosselin will miss about eight weeks with a thumb fracture, the team announced. Gosselin will require surgery. Taking his place on the active roster is fellow infielder Adonis Garcia, a 30-year-old who had a rather quiet minor league career before posting strong results at Triple-A over the last two seasons. After logging 368 plate appearances with a .319/.353/.474 slash last year in the Yankees organization, the infielder/outfielder has slashed .351/.380/.455 thus far at Gwinnett. Garcia signed with New York out of Cuba back in 2012, ultimately settling for a minor league deal when early rumors of a $16MM to $18MM bonus never panned out.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Righty Kyle Kendrick discussed his departure from the Phillies, telling Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News that the end did not come without some perceived irony. “Ruben [Amaro Jr.] called me about a week after the season and said we’re going to go in a different direction, we’re going to go younger,” Kendrick said, “and then he signs Aaron Harang and Jerome Williams. So I was like, [huh]. That’s the way it is. Honestly I think it’s just part of the game and [they] wanted some different faces. That’s the way it goes.”
  • Meanwhile, the Phillies are struggling with pitching health, as the club announced that righty Chad Billingsley is headed to the 15-day DL with a right shoulder strain. The talented but oft-injured thirty year old had made his first starts since early in 2013. He has permitted 12 earned runs over 16 total frames, striking out seven and walking three, though the good news is that his fastball velocity is sitting right at career norms. While the setback is discouraging, Philly will certainly hope that Billingsley can return in relatively short order and provide innings — if not also a trade piece.
  • ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick profiles the recently-extended Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, explaining that Lagares has undergone a rather interesting breakout on the defensive side of the ledger after receiving some middling scouting grades in center in the minors. It is now broadly recognized, of course, that his glove is what gives Lagares such unique value. You’ll want to give the piece a read to learn about the 26-year-old’s journey.
  • Deposed Marlins manager Mike Redmond will still take home a fairly significant amount of guaranteed money from his former team, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. In addition to the remainder of this year’s $850K salary, says Heyman, the Fish owe Redmond just over $1MM annually over the next two seasons.

Quick Hits: Marlins, Montreal, Moncada, Hamilton

Thanks in part to revenue sharing, the Marlins remain profitable, and Jeffrey Loria’s fellow owners might take issue with his indecisive and costly approach to building a team, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Marlins are now paying two former managers who are still under contract (Mike Redmond and Ozzie Guillen), plus former executives Larry Beinfest and Jim Fleming. They’re also paying former catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia through next season. Meanwhile, their attendance remains poor despite the recent opening of Marlins Park. Here’s more from throughout the game.

  • Redmond’s firing demonstrates the Marlins’ inability to follow a steady course, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports writes. The manager the Marlins hire tomorrow will be their eighth in the last decade, the others being Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Edwin Rodriguez, McKeon again, Guillen and Redmond.
  • Montreal mayor Denis Coderre will meet with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on May 28, and he plans to convey to Manfred the city’s love for baseball, the Associated Press reports. Montreal, of course, hasn’t had a team since the Expos were moved to Washington following the 2004 season. Coderre would like for big-league baseball to return, but it sounds like he expects it will be awhile before that can happen. “I don’t want to negotiate openly, but we’ll clearly talk about Montreal,” he says. “We need a step-by-step approach. You don’t pull the flower to make it grow faster.”
  • The Greenville Drive, the Red Sox‘ Class A affiliate, have announced that Yoan Moncada will make his professional debut Monday night, playing second base. The 19-year-old Cuban phenom had been in extended spring training. Red Sox fans will surely be paying close attention to tomorrow’s box score, hoping for hints as to what to expect from Moncada, who officially signed for a $31.5MM bonus in mid-March.
  • Josh Hamilton hasn’t yet joined the Rangers, but he’s happy to be back in the Dallas area on a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco, Ryan Gerbosi of the Dallas Morning News writes. “It’s been a good reception,” says Hamilton. “It’s been good to hear a little twang in people’s voices and just go out there and it’s just a good feeling.” Hamilton, who has also played a handful of games for Triple-A Round Rock, doubled today in his second game with the RoughRiders and appears close to a return from his shoulder injury.
  • 19-year-old lefty Cionel Perez has left Cuba in search of a deal with a big-league team, but MLB’s registration rules will be an obstacle, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. (Perez’s departure from Cuba was originally reported by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.) Badler notes that Perez isn’t a top-tier prospect, but he has improved his standing lately and had become one of the better pitchers in Cuba before his departure. (Badler notes in a subscriber-only scouting report that Perez is small, at 5-foot-10, but has added velocity lately and is now throwing in the low 90s.) Because Perez was born after September 1, 1995, though, and has not yet registered with the commissioner’s office, he will not be eligible to sign until the international signing period that begins next July. Once he’s eligible, he will be subject to rules regarding international bonus pools.

Marlins Fire Manager Mike Redmond

10:49pm: Frisaro tweets that there are rumors within the industry that the Marlins could hire former star catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a hero for the Marlins’ 2003 World Series team, retired as a player in 2012.

10:10pm: The Marlins’ next manager will be someone currently in the organization, Frisaro tweets. It doesn’t appear it will be Butler or Conine, and a source tells Frisaro he’ll be “shocked” when he hears who it is. Frisaro speculates that it could be Andre Dawson or Tony Perez, both of whom are special assistants to president David Samson. Heyman adds (via Twitter) that the new hire will be someone “outside the box” who hasn’t been widely discussed tonight.

8:43pm: It also isn’t Ron Washington, tweets Heyman, who also tweets that it won’t be Bobby Valentine or Bo Porter.

6:24pm: Butler will not be the Marlins’ next manager, sources tell Frisaro (via Twitter).

6:20pm: The Marlins have not been in touch with former Giants and Reds skipper Dusty Baker, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.

5:05pm: Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald reports the Marlins are eyeing candidates with previous MLB managerial experience and names former Astros manager and current Braves third base coach Bo Porter and Ron Roenicke, who was dismissed by the Brewers two weeks ago, as possibilities who fit the bill.

2:44pm: The Marlins have announced on Twitter they have fired manager Mike Redmond. Bench coach Rob Leary was also relieved of his duties. Redmond was in his third season and had a record of 155-207. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets a new manager will be named tomorow at a 10am CT news conference and third base coach Brett Butler is the leading internal candidate to replace Redmond, at least on an interim basis. The new manager will be the seventh for the franchise since 2009.

Hopefully a new voice will spark and motivate our guys to play as capable as we know they are of playing,” said Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill (per the team’s official Twitter account).

The Marlins invested heavily this offseason by extending the face of the franchise Giancarlo Stanton and fellow outfielder Christian Yelich. Miami also acquired Dee Gordon (the MLB leader in batting average), Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Mike Morse, Martin Prado, and Ichiro Suzuki giving rise to playoff aspirations.

The firings came literally minutes after the Marlins were swept by the Braves at home and were nearly no-hit in doing so (Justin Bour ended Shelby Miller‘s bid with two outs in the bottom of the ninth). Nearly one month ago, rumors began circulating Redmond was on the hot seat after the team struggled to a 3-11 start.

In those reports, Mets’ Triple-A manager Wally Backman was named as one of the possible replacements. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the Marlins have not requested permission from the Mets to speak with Backman. The New York Post’s Mike Puma tweets the Marlins had informal talks with Backman last month through a third party.

The Marlins also have not contacted former Twins manager Ron Gardenshire, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In separate tweets, Berardino floats the name of ex-Rangers skipper Ron Washington, who interviewed for the Marlins job a decade ago and lives in New Orleans which is ironically also home to the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes on Twitter owner Jeffrey Loria is now paying two managers not to manage: Redmond (who signed an extension through 2017 last September) and Ozzie Guillen (in the final year of a four-year, $10MM deal).

The Marlins, losers of ten of their last 14, are in fourth place in the NL East, six games behind the Mets. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets Loria may be hoping history repeats itself. The last time the Marlins fired a manager when the club’s record stood at 16-22 was 2003 when Jack McKeon (now 84 and serving as a special assistant to Loria) replaced Jeff Torborg and guided the team to a World Series title. The Marlins haven’t returned to the playoffs since.



Next Marlins Manager Still Unknown

7:59pm: Conine will not, in fact, be the Marlins’ next manager, a front office source now tells Nightengale (via Twitter).

7:19pm: Jeff Conine “appears to be” the Marlins’ choice to replace Mike Redmond as manager, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. In a later tweet, Nightengale cautions that Conine’s choice is not official and that the “mystery continues” until the Marlins confirm his hiring. Conine currently works as a special assistant to Marlins president David Samson.

The Marlins are expected to formally announce their new manager tomorrow at 10am Central. Brett Butler, Bo Porter, Wally Backman and others had been connected to the job.

Conine played parts of 17 seasons with the Royals, Marlins, Orioles, Phillies, Reds and Mets and spent a big chunk of his career in Baltimore, but he’s best known for his play during the early years of the Florida franchise, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Marlin.” The Marlins picked him in the 1992 expansion draft, and he was among the better players on the Marlins’ inaugural 1993 team, finishing third in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. He made the All-Star team in his next two seasons in Florida and played on the Marlins’ World Series team in 1997, and, after being traded, rejoined the team months before they won the World Series again in 2003.

Since the end of his playing career in 2007, Conine has worked in broadcasting in addition to his duties with the Marlins front office. He has no managerial experience.

Redmond was fired earlier today after the Marlins made big commitments to Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich this offseason and acquired players like Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Dan Haren, Mike Morse and Ichiro Suzuki, only to start the year 16-22. Conine will inherit Stanton, Yelich, Gordon and a talented, though injury-wracked, young rotation.


Loria: No Serious Discussion Of Managerial Change

A 3-10 start for the Marlins led to speculation that manager Mike Redmond might be on the hot seat, and after initially declining to comment one way or another on that speculation, team owner Jeffrey Loria endorsed Redmond when speaking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports after last night’s victory. “He’s the manager. Period,” said Loria after watching his team improve to 8-11. “All team go through bad moments. Ours came early. … He did a very nice job last year, and he works hard.”

Heyman goes on to write that Loria insisted that the team isn’t giving any serious consideration to replacing Redmond, who signed a three-year extension through the 2017 season on the final day of the 2014 campaign. He also denied that Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman is or was a consideration at one point, noting that he doesn’t know Backman.

The Marlins have gone 5-1 since the initial report that Redmond could be on the hot seat, and while that’s a small sample of games, it did include a decisive sweep of the division-favorite Nationals, in which Miami outscored Washington 17-4. The Fish also took two of three against the Phillies last week as well.

Reports last week also indicated that GM Dan Jennings and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are both big fans of Redmond, and neither wanted to make a change. It would seem, then, that some combination of the team’s improved play over divisional opponents, combined with a vote of confidence from his top baseball ops executives, has swayed Loria to come around on Redmond. Last week, when asked whether or not Redmond was on the hot seat, Loria declined to comment on his job security, stating, “I’m not interested in palace intrigue. We’ve got games to win — period.”


Latest From Rosenthal: Papelbon, Braun, Young, Redmond

Some within the industry believe the Nationals should trade for Jonathan Papelbon and install Drew Storen as the setup man, says Ken Rosenthal with FOX Sports (video link). While there is some concern over Papelbon’s velocity, he’s off to a great start and “never misses his spots.” His $13MM vesting option for 2016 remains an obstacle. Rosenthal notes that the Tigers and Blue Jays are other possible destinations. I agree that these three clubs could all use relief help. To me, it makes more sense for the Nationals to address their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have a tougher path to the postseason, so they could really use the reinforcements now. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Brewers may shift to a rebuilding stance, and teams are in constant contact about Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Another star, Ryan Braun, will be difficult to trade. He’s slumped to start the season. He’s owed $105MM through 2020, and his no trade clause includes every team by the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman credits his analytics department for recommending Chris Young. The outfielder is off to a blazing start with four home runs and a .357/.426/.762 line in 48 plate appearances. The Yankees have become familiar with buying low. They also acquired Chris Capuano, Martin Prado, and Brandon McCarthy at discount prices.
  • The Marlins are en route to their fourth consecutive victory, but manager Mike Redmond may remain on the hot seat. As one insider told Rosenthal, once owner Jeffrey Loria gets an idea in his head, “he can’t let it go.” If that’s the case, Redmond will need his team to go on an impressive streak.

NL Notes: Olivera, Dodgers, Brewers, Marlins

The Dodgers made a big splash last month with two successive signings of Cuban free agents: infielder Hector Olivera ($62.5MM) and righty Pablo Fernandez ($8MM). But as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports, both players still have yet to receive their visas — and, as a result, have not undergone physicals. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman explained that the club could have elected to perform physicals in the Dominican Republic, where Olivera and Fernandez are both residing. But the Dodgers prefer to wait to allow team doctors a personal inspection. All said, it does not appear that there is any reason to doubt that the agreed-upon terms will ultimately be formalized. In the case of Olivera, however, questions about elbow health were an issue that was reportedly addressed in the contract itself, and his past medical difficulties (along with the significant guarantee) raise the stakes of the physical.

  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers have managed to pull together quite a productive bullpen this year at rather a low cost, as Dave Cameron explains in a piece for FOX Sports. The club has continued to tinker with that unit, claiming and designating a pair of arms and then dealing for Xavier Cedeno earlier today. Friedman explains that the club is building depth and expects to add Cedeno to the active roster (via Hoornstra’s Tout feed).
  • Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says that he is “not looking at the manager or the general manager right now” as the club looks to turn around an awful start, as MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Attanasio placed the blame on the fact that many of the club’s players are not matching their career standards. He also defended the organization’s decision to keep its core together and try to compete in 2015, saying that it performed “a huge amount of analysis” in making that call.
  • If the Marlins do make a change at manager, Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman is not a candidate, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Miami owner Jeffrey Loria is “actively reviewing” the situation of Mike Redmond as the team tries to shake off a rusty start. Over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan argues that, though the club’s awful opening is obviously disappointing, the expectations never should have been very high at the start of 2015.

NL East Notes: Redmond, Backman, Feigl, Cosart

Given the opportunity to provide a vote of confidence in manager Mike Redmond yesterday, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria passed on the opportunity to do so, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Loria and GM Dan Jennings briefly met with Redmond in his office and, upon leaving, Loria was asked about Redmond’s job security. The owner replied: “I’ve got one thing to say: I’m not interested in palace intrigue. We’ve got games to win — period. (The speculation) doesn’t have anything to do with anything.” Crasnick also spoke to Redmond, who said he’s as disappointed with the poor start as anyone else, if not more so. “I can’t control the stuff that people write,” said Redmond. “All I can do is come out and be consistent. I think I’ve showed that the last couple of years. I think the guys know where I’m coming from. We’ve got to win some ballgames. That’s the way it is.”

More news from the AL East…

  • Mike Puma of the New York Post hears from a source that Loria recently quizzed people who know Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman to see if Backman would make a good big league manager. The Miami Herald’s recent report that Redmond was on the hot seat also noted that Backman would be a consideration as an alternative, though Backman himself has expressed surprise at his connection to the Marlins, and GM Sandy Alderson has said he’s yet to be asked to interview Backman.
  • Braves left-hander Brady Feigl underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, the pitcher himself tweeted. The 24-year-old Feigl almost made the team out of Spring Training following an excellent showing in which he yielded one run on seven hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Signed as an undrafted free agent, Feigl enjoyed a very strong year with the Braves’ Class-A affiliates in 2014, posting a 3.08 ERA with 60 strikeouts against 13 walks in 65 2/3 innings. Feigl adds to a rash of Tommy John operations that has plagued the Braves, who have seen Brandon Beachy (now with the Dodgers), Kris Medlen (now with the Royals) and Shae Simmons all undergo the procedure in the past 13 months.
  • Marlins righty Jarred Cosart tells Paul Hudrick of CSNPhilly.com that it would be “pretty cool to beat the Phillies,” the team that originally drafted him but traded him to Houston as part of a package for Hunter Pence. Cosart doesn’t hold any ill will toward the Phillies and in fact spoke fondly of the four years he spent with the team. Regarding the decision to trade him, he said he understood the decision and appreciated GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s candor. “I talked to Ruben on the phone,” Cosart recalls. “He said, ‘We’re trying to win a World Series now and Hunter Pence is a guy we think that can help us, so we’re trading you to Houston.'” Cosart would again be traded last summer, this time heading to the Marlins in a trade that sent Jake Marisnick, Colin Moran and a 2015 Competitive Balance pick to the Astros. Cosart will face the Phillies in Philadelphia tonight.

How Common Are Early-Season Manager Firings?

Already, in late April, there are rumors surrounding Marlins manager Mike Redmond, whose job could be in jeopardy after the team’s 3-10 start. April sounds awfully early in the season to fire a manager, and in fact it is — in the past ten seasons, there have been no manager firings in the month of April. There have been plenty of firings in the first halves of seasons, however. Here’s a look at the nine firings in the past decade that took place before a team had finished 81 games in a season, and a brief glimpse at what happened in the next few years after each dismissal. As we’ll see, the outcomes of these firings run the gamut of possible outcomes, making it difficult to say whether replacing a manager early in a given season is a good idea.

  • The Reds fired Dave Miley on June 21, 2005, replacing him with Jerry Narron. Narron lasted barely two seasons and was replaced by Dusty Baker, who had two sub-.500 seasons before leading the Reds to three seasons of 90 or more wins in his next four.
  • The Mariners fired John McLaren on June 19, 2008 after a 25-47 start. After Jim Riggleman finished out the season, the Mariners turned to Don Wakamatsu and Eric Wedge, neither of whom had success, before finally turning to Lloyd McClendon, who had a good first season in 2014.
  • The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle on May 29, 2009 after they got off to an 18-28 start. Jim Tracy took over and the Rockies went 74-42 the rest of the way, making the playoffs.
  • The Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on June 8, 2009, replacing him with A.J. Hinch, who managed the team for less than a season and a half before being fired himself.
  • The Royals fired Trey Hillman on May 13, 2010 after a 12-23 start, replacing him with Ned Yost. Yost’s tactical managing gives fans fits, and his first two-plus seasons with the Royals were unsuccessful, but the team has played exceptionally well since then.
  • The Orioles fired Dave Trembley on June 4, 2010. The team struggled for about two months with interim manager Juan Samuel at the helm, but performed well for the last two months of the season under Buck Showalter, whose hiring has so far been a boon for the franchise.
  • The Marlins fired Fredi Gonzalez on June 23, 2010, replacing him with Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez posted a .500 record the rest of the season, but he resigned during the 2011 season as the team struggled.
  • The Diamondbacks fired Hinch on July 1, 2010, replacing him with Kirk Gibson. The D-backs had a 94-win season in 2011, but after two .500 seasons and a poor 2014, they fired Gibson, too.
  • The Athletics fired Bob Geren on June 9, 2011, replacing him with Melvin. The team continued to struggle down the stretch in 2011 but has made the playoffs in three straight seasons since.

The Rockies’ swap of Clint Hurdle for Jim Tracy in 2009 (along with the Marlins’ own Jeff Torborg/Jack McKeon switch in their World Series-winning 2003 campaign) is exactly what a team hopes for when it fires a manager early in the season. The Rockies turned their season around under Tracy and made the playoffs after an amazing stretch run.

But the Hurdle/Tracy swap could also be read as evidence of how difficult it can be to identify or predict a manager’s effect on a team. Tracy had previously managed the Pirates, but was fired after two ugly seasons. He lasted only three more years in Colorado. Meanwhile, Hurdle ultimately took over in Pittsburgh and led the team to its first two winning seasons in two decades, earning praise for his leadership and his integration of sabermetrics into the Pirates’ day-to-day strategy. Perhaps Tracy really was the right manager for the Rockies in 2009, and Hurdle the wrong one. A manager’s job is to lead, and his ability to lead the ever-changing cast of players around him is surely somewhat fluid. But a team’s performance is informed by any number of factors that have little to do with its manager.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to draw conclusions from the list above. Some teams’ manager swaps appear to have worked well, like that of the Rockies, or the Athletics’ switch of Geren and Melvin. Others didn’t, although that’s not surprising, given that teams who fire their managers tend not to be the best ones.

Perhaps there’s a distinction between firings in April and firings in June and July. In April, it’s hard to be completely out of the race, but in June, it isn’t, and maybe it makes sense for a team to make big changes rather than having a lame-duck manager limp through the rest of the season. There’s also the problem of how best to hire a permanent manager while a season is going on. Many teams on the list above turned to interim managers after firings, and surely that’s not what the Marlins would do if they fired Redmond. It probably isn’t easy to hire a permanent manager in-season. Of the teams on the list above, only two, the Royals (Yost) and the Athletics (Melvin), immediately replaced their outgoing managers with managers who turned out to be real long-term replacements.

Then there’s the lack of stability an early-season firing can betray. As FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out, the Marlins’ struggles are due in part to pitchers’ injuries and to Mat Latos‘ ineffectiveness. Those problems have little to do with Redmond, and replacing him would probably do nothing to solve them. Perhaps Redmond isn’t the right manager for the Marlins, but what might be most striking about the list above is the absence of many  successful franchises who seem to highly value organizational stability, like the Cardinals, Giants and Tigers. Of course, it’s surely true that those franchises are mostly stable in part because they’re successful, and not the way around. And there are other franchises who are generally stable, like the Rockies and Twins, who haven’t done well lately. But the Marlins have had five managers since 2010 (Gonzalez, Rodriguez, McKeon, Ozzie Guillen and Redmond). One wonders how difficult it must be for players to develop given that many changes of leadership.


East Notes: Marlins, Stammen, Francis

Marlins manager Mike Redmond is rumored to be on the hot seat, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the team doesn’t need a new manager, just better starting pitching. Marlins starters have a 5.23 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9, and they’re reeling from the loss of Henderson Alvarez with a shoulder injury. Still, the Marlins have enough talent to rebound from their 3-10 start, Frisaro says. Here are more quick notes from the East divisions.

  • Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen had surgery Sunday to fix two torn flexor tendons in his forearm, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. He is likely to miss the rest of the season and will be able to return for Spring Training next year. In the last three seasons, Stammen has been a workhorse in the Nats’ bullpen, pitching 242 2/3 innings in that span. He’ll make $2.25MM in 2015 and is arbitration eligible next winter for the last time before free agency.
  • Jeff Francis is back in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, and he’s hoping to stick around even though he knows it might be tough to do so, John Lott of the National Post writes. The former Rockies starter pitched 3 1/3 innings Sunday, but he’s 34 and throws in the upper 80s. He’s now pitching for his fourth team since the start of the 214 season, having appeared with the Reds, Athletics and Yankees last year. Francis, who is from Canada, calls playing for his favorite childhood team a “thrill” but says it’s one he’ll mostly enjoy after he’s done playing.