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 (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.