The other day Yahoo!’s Gordon Edes was reporting
that the Red Sox were scouting Jeff Francoeur. I kind of doubt it
actually, given that Francoeur is pretty much the polar opposite of
what Theo Epstein, Bill James and the rest of that gang in Boston looks
for in a player. My guess: if Red Sox people were in Atlanta, they were
advance scouting the Blue Jays.
But let’s say it’s true, and the Sox truly are interested in Failcouer.
What should the Braves expect back for him? If I were Frank Wren I’d
probably be happy with anything north of a kick to the groin, and I’d
consider the kick to the groin for a good long while if it meant
ditching Frenchy. But I’m not Frank Wren and I have a hard time
handicapping trades. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is stumped too, so they threw the question out to their readers.
Among the actual responses they received were “A bag of beans”; “20
bats and they pay his ticket out of town”; “A ham sandwich to be named
later”; “air”; and “Ortiz.” I’m not sure whether that last one is a
bigger insult to Big Papi or Francoeur. That ham sandwich offer seems
pretty sweet though.
While this is an obviously unscientific survey, it does have some
value: it challenges the assumption the Braves seem to have that
local-boy Francoeur is some uber-popular guy in Atlanta who must be
given more latitude to stink than other players are. He’s not, and even
the message board posters of the AJC — where the worst of the
Francoeur apologists tend to reside — have turned on him.
What that means, I think, is that unless that offer of the ham
sandwich — or even the kick to the groin — becomes available, Frank
Wren has the cover to designate baseball’s biggest out machine for
Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.