Rockies close to free agent agreement with Jeff Francis

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From Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post comes word that the Rockies are “close to signing” lefty Jeff Francis “and he will likely start Saturday’s game when the Rockies host the Angels.”

Francis hasn’t appeared in a major league game this season and wasn’t very good in 2011 for Kansas City, but the Rox are desperate for starting pitching due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness.

Francis asked for and was granted his release by Cincinnati earlier this week after posting a decent 3.72 ERA and 65/18 K/BB ratio across 77 1/3 innings (12 starts) for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky. The 31-year-old southpaw owns a 4.78 career ERA and 1.43 career WHIP in over 1,000 major league innings — 882 2/3 of which came with Colorado.

He’ll be accepting a minor league deal to rejoin a Rockies organization that picked him ninth overall in ’02.