Jeff Francis expected to pick a team within the next few days

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Jeff Francis fever is sweeping the hot stove.  Or whatever.

According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, the left-hander is expected to decide between offers from the Rockies, Mets, Brewers, Pirates and Nationals within the next couple of days.

Francis missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing major shoulder surgery just before spring training and posted an unremarkable 5.00 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 20 appearances (19 starts) in 2010.

But most of Francis’ struggles this year can be attributed to rust and the southpaw’s ongoing recovery from that February 2009 shoulder procedure.  He looked far better in the second half of the season and he actually managed a four-year high on the average velocity of his fastball, clocking in at 87.2 MPH.

On a one-year deal with some incentives thrown in, he should make a fine innings-eater in 2011.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.