Indians sign Jeff Francoeur

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The Indians just announced that they have signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this evening that the two sides were close to a deal.

Francoeur, who turns 30 on Wednesday, hit rock bottom last season by batting just .204/.238/.298 with three home runs and 17 RBI over 81 games between the Royals and Giants. His .536 OPS was third-lowest in MLB among players with at least 250 plate appearances. Only Jeff Mathis and Brendan Ryan were worse. And that’s not where you want to be. Francoeur wasn’t much better in 2012, putting up 16 homers and a .665 OPS in 148 games, so his days as a regular are probably over.

The Indians already have a right-handed hitting outfielder with Ryan Raburn, so it could be a challenge for Francoeur to crack the Opening Day roster. And hey, if he ends up at Triple-A Columbus, at least he would have a new best friend close by.

UPDATE: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Francoeur will receive a $1 million base salary if he makes the Indians and could earn more with incentives.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.