Shocker: the Royals and Jeff Francoeur are close to a deal

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I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur at the paddock before the second race. I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur outside the men’s room before I placed my bet.  I saw Dayton Moore and the Royals signing Jeff Francoeur before they got up this morning.

Now Ken Rosenthal reports that it’s close to going down. A one-year deal. Possible option for 2012. There are things that are more inevitable than this was, but they are only measured on a geologic time frame.

And unless it’s crazy money — which I doubt it will be — it’s not going to kill anyone. Jeff Francoeur will not be the difference between the Royals winning and not winning the AL Central in 2011, even if he gets 600 at bats (note: I don’t use plate appearances for Francoeur because including a metric that covers walks is pretty pointless with Jeffy). He’s a decent-defending body in right field, hopefully on a platoon basis, but if he’s not going to be there every day, it’s no biggie. At least not on this team.

He’ll just be there long enough, I presume, for there to be a whole new round of “Jeff Francoeur is focusing on working the count” articles this spring, as there are every spring.  He’ll be there just long enough for people to realize that that one lucky first-pitch homer he hit the first week of the season is not indicative of his talents.  He’ll be there long enough for him to depress Royals fans who want him to be their Great White Hope, and to cause Ned Yost to bench or platoon him.  He’ll be there long enough for either him or his agent to complain in the press about him being an everyday player and wanting a trade because that’s what they do every year.

And then, in July or August, he’ll get traded to the Giants.

Enjoy Kansas City, Jeffy. Lots of good food there.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.