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Tito Francona — Terry Francona’s father — dies at age 84

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The Cleveland Indians announced today that John “Tito” Francona, the father of current Indians manager Terry Francona, passed away at the age of 84 at his home last night in New Brighton, PA.

The original Tito Francona was primarily an outfielder, who spent a good amount of time at first base as well. He made his big league debut with the Orioles in 1956, playing for Baltimore for three seasons. After short stints with the White Sox and Tigers in 1958, Francona spent six years with the Indians from 1959-64. In 1959, the year Terry was born, Tito batted .363/.414/.566 with 20 homers and finished 5th in AL MVP voting despite falling just shy of qualifying for the batting title. In 1960 he led the AL in doubles and in 1961 he was an AL All-Star and led the league in singles.

From 1965 through his retirement following the 1970 season, he would bounce from the Cardinals to the Phillies to the Braves to the Athletics, ending his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. For his career he hit .272/.343/.403 (OPS+ 107) He ended his career with Milwaukee in 1970. He was named to the Top 100 Greatest Indians roster in 2001.

The Indians released the following statement:

“Our hearts ache as truly one of the special men in Cleveland Indians history passed away last night. On behalf of the entire Indians organization, our thoughts and prayers are with Terry and the entire Francona family. For a generation of Cleveland fans, Tito was one of the all-time favorites to wear an Indians uniform. It was certainly a joy the past five years watching Tito and Terry be together around the ballpark. He will be missed.”

Rays acquire C.J. Cron from Angels

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The Rays have acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels for a player to be named later, the teams announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, the Rays cleared a roster spot for Cron by designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

Cron wasn’t expected to factor prominently in the Angels’ plans for 2018, especially given the recent addition of pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the projected Luis Valbuena/Albert Pujols combo at first base. The 28-year-old infielder wasn’t overly impressive during his fourth season in Anaheim, either, slashing .248/.305/.437 with 16 home runs and 0.5 fWAR through 373 plate appearances in 2017. He’ll give the Rays a platoon option with fellow first baseman Brad Miller, though neither Cron nor Miller have looked particularly adept against left-handed pitching lately.

Dickerson, meanwhile, is coming off of a banner season with the Rays. The 29-year-old outfielder enjoyed his first All-Star nomination in 2017, rounding out the year with a .282/.325/.490 batting line and career-best 27 home runs and 2.6 fWAR in 629 PA. Some have already speculated that a trade is in the works; barring that, it’s a head-scratching move to make considering his clear offensive value to the team.