Ben Francisco signs with Yankees after being released by Indians

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UPDATE: That was quick. Less than three hours after the Indians released him Francisco has signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Seems like a good fit with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira out.

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Cleveland has released outfielder Ben Francisco, who signed a minor-league deal with the Indians in January and was competing for a bench job.

Early in his career Francisco was a productive regular, hitting .263 with a .775 OPS in 1,221 plate appearances through age 28, but his OPS has dipped to .691 during the past two seasons and at age 31 he may have to work his way back to the majors with some time at Triple-A.

Francisco was originally drafted by the Indians in 2002 and got sent to the Phillies as part of the Cliff Lee trade in mid-2009, bouncing around quite a bit since then.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.