Blue Jays, Frank Francisco avoid arbitration with $4 million deal

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Right on cue, the Blue Jays just announced via their Twitter feed that they have avoided arbitration with reliever Frank Francisco by agreeing to a one-year, $4 million contract.

Francisco, who was acquired from the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli earlier this week, requested $4.875 million and was offered $3.5 million from the Rangers when arbitration figures were exchanged earlier this month, so he ultimately settled for a little below the midpoint. He accepted arbitration from the Rangers in November due to his Type A free agent status.

The 31-year-old Francisco lost his closer job to Neftali Feliz last April and his season was eventually cut short due to a strained muscle in his side, but he still managed to compile a 3.76 ERA and 60/18 K/BB ratio over 52 2/3 innings. He should have the advantage over Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch for the closer role in Toronto this season.

Rays trade Jake Odorizzi to Twins

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The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.

With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.

Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.