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.

Braves are targeting Dallas Keuchel

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LAS VEGAS — Let’s start our first weekday of the Winter Meetings with some rumors and speculation. We’ll have a good bit of that until, you know, something actually happens.

First up: Dallas Keuchel, the top free agent pitcher remaining on the market. Jon Heyman says the Braves, who are in the market for a starter, are targeting him. In this they are not alone, as the Phillies, who missed out on Patrick Corbin, and the Reds, who would like a pitcher who doesn’t allow a lot of fly balls are each reported to be focused on Keuchel as well. There was a random report that the Blue Jays were interested in him too, but that seems off to me given where they are on their rebuild.

Keuchel, who will turn 31 on New Year’s Day, was 12-11 in 34 starts last year, posting an ERA of 3.74 in 204.2 innings. His peripherals have declined fairly consistently since his Cy Young season in 2015, so the question is whether the team that signs him is paying for his past or for what he might reasonably be expected to provide in the future.