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:
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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.