UPDATE: That was quick. Less than three hours after the Indians released him Francisco has signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Seems like a good fit with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira out.
Cleveland has released outfielder Ben Francisco, who signed a minor-league deal with the Indians in January and was competing for a bench job.
Early in his career Francisco was a productive regular, hitting .263 with a .775 OPS in 1,221 plate appearances through age 28, but his OPS has dipped to .691 during the past two seasons and at age 31 he may have to work his way back to the majors with some time at Triple-A.
Francisco was originally drafted by the Indians in 2002 and got sent to the Phillies as part of the Cliff Lee trade in mid-2009, bouncing around quite a bit since then.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.
Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.
Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.
It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.
Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.