As expected no teams wanted anything to do with the $3 million or so remaining on Jeff Francoeur’s contract, so he passed through waivers unclaimed and has been released by the Royals.
That means Francoeur is now a free agent and able to sign with any team for whatever money and role he can get. My guess is that he’ll land another major-league contract, but it’ll be close to the minimum salary for a part-time gig.
For all his faults when pressed into everyday action–he’s been putrid while hitting .228 with a .642 OPS in 207 games since the beginning of last season–Francoeur remains a potentially useful platoon corner outfielder versus left-handed pitching. And of course everyone within baseball loves him, so landing with a contender shouldn’t shock anyone.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.
Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.
Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.