Rockies close to free agent agreement with Jeff Francis

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From Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post comes word that the Rockies are “close to signing” lefty Jeff Francis “and he will likely start Saturday’s game when the Rockies host the Angels.”

Francis hasn’t appeared in a major league game this season and wasn’t very good in 2011 for Kansas City, but the Rox are desperate for starting pitching due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Francis asked for and was granted his release by Cincinnati earlier this week after posting a decent 3.72 ERA and 65/18 K/BB ratio across 77 1/3 innings (12 starts) for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky. The 31-year-old southpaw owns a 4.78 career ERA and 1.43 career WHIP in over 1,000 major league innings — 882 2/3 of which came with Colorado.

He’ll be accepting a minor league deal to rejoin a Rockies organization that picked him ninth overall in ’02.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.