Bob Dunn has a story in the Kansas City Star about Jeff Francoeur’s place in the world at the trading deadline. Short version: he would prefer not to go:
“People keep asking me about it,” he said. “And what I say is I’m sure if a team came to the Royals and overwhelmed them (with an offer) for me or Melky (Cabrera), they’d probably have to do it. But you know what? I think a lot of us will be here … At some point,” Francoeur said, “we’ll talk to Dayton about the option. Maybe get a two- or three-year deal or something. I’ve told Dayton that I like it here. I’d love to stay here … Because … let’s say you trade me and Melky, you’re just starting over. If you’re trying to build something to go to the next level, at some point you’ve got to make a stand and keep guys.”
After a fast start, Francoeur is basically at his pedestrian career norms. Given how he always starts fast when he changes teams, you’d think he’d love a trade!
In all seriousness, though, the Royals are in a rather interesting position with this guy. Contrary to what he implies, he is not one of those veterans a team regrettably lets go, suggesting no commitment to the future and he is not one of the guys whose retention would signal a brave new course for the Royals. It’s not Carlos Beltran circa 2004.
But he’s also not useless. In spring training I talked to some people at Royals camp who said they’d be utterly shocked to see him stay in Kansas City past 2011, but it’s not crazy that he could. Maybe not on that $4 million option, but some way. There’s value to having a guy fill a position in a middling-to-average way. One less thing to worry about.
The key is what, if anything, a team would offer for him here at the deadline. I have a hard time seeing someone offering a prospect who could be a starter in the next year or two. And if Dayton Moore can get no better — if it’s an organizational arm or some less-talented toolsy future corner outfielder — isn’t having an amiable, partially useful and happy guy like Francoeur filling the hole preferable?
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.