Jeff Francis expected to pick a team within the next few days

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Jeff Francis fever is sweeping the hot stove.  Or whatever.

According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, the left-hander is expected to decide between offers from the Rockies, Mets, Brewers, Pirates and Nationals within the next couple of days.

Francis missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing major shoulder surgery just before spring training and posted an unremarkable 5.00 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over 20 appearances (19 starts) in 2010.

But most of Francis’ struggles this year can be attributed to rust and the southpaw’s ongoing recovery from that February 2009 shoulder procedure.  He looked far better in the second half of the season and he actually managed a four-year high on the average velocity of his fastball, clocking in at 87.2 MPH.

On a one-year deal with some incentives thrown in, he should make a fine innings-eater in 2011.

White Sox sign Ervin Santana to minors deal

Ervin Santana
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Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.

The veteran righty hasn’t seen any action in MLB for some time. He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.

Barring further complications with his pitching hand, the 36-year-old should be a stabilizing force for the White Sox’ rotation in 2019 — assuming he can beat out southpaw Manny Bañuelos and right-handers Jordan Stephens and Dylan Covey for a back-end role, that is. According to FanGraphs, the club’s starters ranked worst in the league in 2018 with a collective 5.07 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.