Five teams — including the Yankees — are interested in Jeff Francis

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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers and Yankees have shown interest in Jeff Francis, who most recently pitched for the Rockies.  Some of those other teams have been mentioned before, but this is the first time anyone has reported the Yankees’ interest.

As Drew noted over the weekend, Francis was rusty at times last year, but he improved in the second half and his velocity was up.  He could be a good candidate for sharp improvement in 2011. There aren’t a lot of teams who he couldn’t help in some capacity, even if it’s just as a fourth or fifth starter.

Yankees acquire A.J. Cole from the Nats

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The New York Yankees have acquired reliever A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations.

Cole was supposed to be the Nats’ fifth starter this year but that didn’t work out too well. He pitched in four games for the Nats, starting two, to the tune of a 13.06 ERA, having given up six home runs in 10.1 innings. That’s . . . something.

Don’t get too used to Cole on the New York roster, as this seems like one of those “give us an arm” for a couple of days deals, after which Cole will be DFA’d and will either accept an assignment to Scranton or be cut loose. Such is life at the fringes for a guy who is out of minor league options.