Jeff Francis downplays level of free agent interest


Last week Jerry Crasnick of reported that at least five teams were pursuing Jeff Francis, but the Canadian left-hander talked to the Vancouver Province and downplayed the amount of interest he’s received as a free agent.

It’s exciting for people to read because they think there’s lots of things happening, but it’s not as fast-paced as it’s all made out to be. Teams are interested, but that’s about it at this point.

Francis finished a four-year, $13.25 million contract and the Rockies declined their $7.5 million option on him for 2011 after he went 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 104 innings coming back from shoulder surgery.

He’ll likely have to accept an incentive-laden one-year deal at this point, as Francis hasn’t been healthy and effective since winning 17 regular season games and two more in the playoffs during the Rockies’ run to the World Series in 2007.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.