Frank Francisco likely to accept arbitration, return to Rangers

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Tomorrow night is the deadline for Type A and Type B free agents to accept or decline their teams’ arbitration offers.

For the most part it’s merely a procedural deadline, as nearly all the free agents will decline the offer on their way to the open market, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Frank Francisco is likely to accept the Rangers’ arbitration offer and return to Texas in 2011.

I wrote earlier this month about how the free agent compensation system significantly overrates relievers, pegging them as 37 percent of the Type A players over the past two seasons. Francisco is among that group and his Type A status could scare off potential suitors not interested in parting with a first-round pick to sign him. Because of that his market could be pretty limited, making a return to Texas at what figures to be around $4 million a legitimate option.

Early struggles saw Francisco lose his closer job to Neftali Feliz in April and a strained rib muscle got him left off the Rangers’ playoff roster, but in between he posted a 2.84 ERA, .220 opponents’ batting average, and 57/16 K/BB ratio in 51 innings from mid-April to the end of August. He also had a 3.43 ERA, .206 opponents’ batting average, and 140/41 K/BB ratio in 113 innings during the previous two seasons, so the Rangers should be happy to welcome him back on a one-year deal.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.