The Phillies trade Ben Francisco to Toronto

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The Blue Jays just announced that they have traded for outfielder Ben Francisco. To the Phillies: lefty Frank Gailey.

When last we heard of Francisco, he had just hit a three-run pinch-hit home run off Jaime Garcia in the top of the seventh inning of Game 3 of the NLDS. In more normal times we know of him as a fourth outfielder type with a .260/.332/.430 career line in over 1500 plate appearances scattered over five seasons. You might think of him as a platoon guy, but over his career he has hit lefties and righties at roughly the same clip.

Gailey is a minor league lefty who posted a 3.41 ERA and 61/21 K/BB ratio in 74 innings this year between Single-A and Double-A. He’s 26, so it’s not like he’s a comer, but he could be useful.

For the Phillies, this was mostly about roster flexibility, it seems. Francisco was arbitration eligible and there really wasn’t a place for him. Playoff heroics aside, Charlie Manuel seemed to sour on him some after his stint starting at the beginning of last year was less-than-stellar.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.