Jeff Francis agrees to stay with Reds, but will be at Triple-A

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Jeff Francis chose not to opt out of his minor-league contract with the Reds, hoping to stick around in camp beyond his opt-out date and win a big-league jump. Instead he’ll remain in the organization while beginning the season at Triple-A, where the 31-year-old left-hander hasn’t pitched regularly since way back in 2004.

Back then he was a stud prospect for the Rockies, but injuries have taken their toll on Francis and his career ERA is 4.78 in 1,066 innings. Coors Field being his home ballpark for most of that time certainly didn’t help, but Francis actually has a higher ERA (5.06) on the road and went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA for the Royals last season.

Now he’ll bide his time at Triple-A, waiting for the Reds to need a fill-in starter at some point.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.