As expected no teams wanted anything to do with the $3 million or so remaining on Jeff Francoeur’s contract, so he passed through waivers unclaimed and has been released by the Royals.
That means Francoeur is now a free agent and able to sign with any team for whatever money and role he can get. My guess is that he’ll land another major-league contract, but it’ll be close to the minimum salary for a part-time gig.
For all his faults when pressed into everyday action–he’s been putrid while hitting .228 with a .642 OPS in 207 games since the beginning of last season–Francoeur remains a potentially useful platoon corner outfielder versus left-handed pitching. And of course everyone within baseball loves him, so landing with a contender shouldn’t shock anyone.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.