Jeff Francoeur: minor league pitcher

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HBT favorite Jeff Francoeur was released by the Indians in spring training and was picked up on a minor league deal by the Padres. He’s been playing at El Paso all season and he’s hitting a Francoeurian .277 with a low OBP and some decent pop. It’s what he’s always done, really, and given that his parent club has a pretty lackluster offense, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was patrolling right field in San Diego sometime this season.

But for now, he’s making the most of it. And part of making the most of it is as El Paso’s mopup man. He’s pitched five and a third innings over six appearances, allowing four hits and three earned runs with three walks and four strikeouts. Not great, but not nothing. He is said to have a fastball in the low 90s and a serviceable slider.

That all comes in this excellent New York Times story by Tyler Kepner, who features both Francoeur and former major leaguer Jason Lane. Himself an outfielder at one time but now a full-time pitcher and frequent pinch hitter. The angle on the story is how Francoeur is pitching for fun and Lane is pitching for his career. Or at least to prolong it. There are some good observations in there too about how, in this day of 13-man pitching staffs and very thin major league benches, a swingman like Lane or possibly even Francoeur could become less of a novelty and might actually serve a useful purpose on a big league club.

Great story. Check it out.

Report: Orioles interested in Jarrod Dyson

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Free agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson is still a possible target for the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The outfielder has received limited interest after entering free agency this season, due in part to the season-ending sports hernia surgery he underwent last September. To that end, Kubatko says, the team has verified his medicals and no red flags appear to have surfaced so far.

Dyson, 33, managed a modest .251/.324/.350 batting line, five home runs and 28 stolen bases in 390 plate appearances for the Mariners last year. He didn’t overwhelm the competition at the plate, particularly during an injury-riddled second half, but still showed himself capable of maintaining the speed and defense that have become his calling cards over the last five seasons. Kubatko notes that while Dyson doesn’t appear to be seeking an everyday role again in 2018, he could be a “useful player” for Baltimore if he remains healthy.

The Giants have also tossed their hats in the ring for Dyson this winter, going so far as to call him their primary non-Lorenzo Cain candidate. Nothing is close to being finalized, however, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that both Dyson and the Giants are still talking to other interested parties. The Orioles, too, are exploring alternatives to Dyson, and are rumored to be in talks with an anonymous right fielder who could conceivably platoon in right field and help provide depth behind Adam Jones in center.