Cleveland Indians to sign outfielder Jeff Francoeur

J. Meric

It's Cleveland's turn to host one of the most divisive players in baseball!

The Indians are close to signing outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor-league deal. Terms of not yet been disclosed, so we don't yet know if there are any clauses that give him the option of opting out if he's not on the roster by a certain dates, a common detail in minor-league deals for players with fairly recent success.

Francoeur, 29 (turning 30 on Wednesday, so wish him a good one!), has been a somewhat effective player at various points in his career, and as recently as 2011, but there's a buzz that has followed him to each of the five teams he's already played for in his career (Braves, Mets, Rangers, Royals, Giants), a sense that's he been a great player, which has never been true.

Here's a look at Francoeur's numbers:

2005 21 ATL 70 274 77 20 14 45 11 58 .300 .336 .549 .884 126
2006 22 ATL 162 686 169 24 29 103 23 132 .260 .293 .449 .742 87
2007 23 ATL 162 696 188 40 19 105 42 129 .293 .338 .444 .782 102
2008 24 ATL 155 653 143 33 11 71 39 111 .239 .294 .359 .653 72
2009 25 TOT 157 632 166 32 15 76 23 92 .280 .309 .423 .732 93
2010 26 TOT 139 503 113 18 13 65 30 81 .249 .300 .383 .683 85
2011 27 KCR 153 656 171 47 20 87 37 123 .285 .329 .476 .805 119
2012 28 KCR 148 603 132 26 16 49 34 119 .235 .287 .378 .665 80
2013 29 TOT 81 256 50 10 3 17 9 61 .204 .238 .298 .536 48
9 Yrs 1227 4959 1209 250 140 618 248 906 .263 .306 .419 .725 91

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Until the last couple years, Francoeur had decent pop, and he has a very strong arm in right field, but the rest of his defense is suspect, and he's never known how to draw a walk, leading to low on-base percentages, even in his good years. You can see from looking at his OPS+ figures, he's rarely been an above average contributor on offense, and was one of the worst hitters in MLB in 2013.

The Indians are pretty well set in the outfield, with David Murphy and Ryan Raburn expected to platoon in right, and Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley set in center and left. The last position-player spot on the roster is probably up for grabs, with Jason Giambi and a third catcher among those in the mix for it. Francoeur will join that competition at Spring Training, and maybe he gets back to his 2011 production and this turns out to be a good signing. More likely he either gets released when some sort of contractual clause isn't triggered, or he hits a couple home runs while striking out a ton.

If the Tribe was going to sign an outfielder who probably won't turn out to help, I'd have preferred they bring Grady Sizemore back. You know, for old time's sake. Alas...

As a final note, I will mention that at every stop of his career, Francoeur has been lauded as a fine person, well-liked by media members and teammates, and popular with fans. There are worse things in the world than signing a good guy to a risk-free deal and hoping lightning strikes.


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