The Royals sign Jeff Francis

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UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick reports that Francis will get a $2M base salary. He can make $2M more in incentives based on starts and innings pitched. Seems like a good deal. Especially considering that Brad Penny just got $3 million base, $3 million incentives.

9:40 AMJerry Crasnick just tweeted that the Royals have signed free agent starter Jeff Francis to a one-year deal, pending a physical.

This is a much-needed signing for the Royals, whose rotation is otherwise avert-your-eyes awful.  While no ace — his overall 2010 numbers amounted to a 5.00 ERA in 19 starts — Francis looked much better in the second half, gaining some velocity and otherwise shaking off the rust after missing all of 2009 with shoulder surgery.  He should be a quality mid-rotation kind of guy next year.

Which in Kansas City means that he should be a candidate for the Opening Day starter’s gig.

Report: Padres have made offers to both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper

Manny Machado
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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Jon Heyman has been hot on the free agent trail today, reporting that the Padres have made offers both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. The offer to Machado is believed to be for eight years and about $250 million, while the offer to Harper is believed to be for more than that.

Heyman was reporting on Harper earlier, tweeting that the Phillies are the favorite to sign him. He added this evening that Harper has multiple long-term offers at more than $30 million annually. Regarding Machado, Heyman noted that while Machado was believed to have had a preference for the East coast, he will go for the best deal now, which puts the Padres firmly in the picture.

The Padres reportedly met with Machado last week. A late entrant into the sweepstakes, the club has shown the willingness to spend, signing Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract last year. If he goes to San Diego, Machado would be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop.

Nothing appears close, but we’ll take anything resembling a spark to light the hot stove.