Indians sign Jeff Francoeur

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The Indians just announced that they have signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this evening that the two sides were close to a deal.

Francoeur, who turns 30 on Wednesday, hit rock bottom last season by batting just .204/.238/.298 with three home runs and 17 RBI over 81 games between the Royals and Giants. His .536 OPS was third-lowest in MLB among players with at least 250 plate appearances. Only Jeff Mathis and Brendan Ryan were worse. And that’s not where you want to be. Francoeur wasn’t much better in 2012, putting up 16 homers and a .665 OPS in 148 games, so his days as a regular are probably over.

The Indians already have a right-handed hitting outfielder with Ryan Raburn, so it could be a challenge for Francoeur to crack the Opening Day roster. And hey, if he ends up at Triple-A Columbus, at least he would have a new best friend close by.

UPDATE: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Francoeur will receive a $1 million base salary if he makes the Indians and could earn more with incentives.

Astros trade Jake Marisnick to the Mets

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The Mets and Astros have announced that they’ve completed a trade. The Mets will get outfielder Jake Marisnick from the Astros in exchange for outfielder Kenedy Corona and lefty Blake Taylor.

Marisnick, a seven-year big league veteran, has never hit all that much — his career line is .227/.280/.380 — but he’s a very strong defender at all three outfield positions and can run a good bit. That makes him a decent bench option at least. To the extent the Mets rely on him to be more than a bench guy they’ll get diminishing returns, but the Astros used him a good deal more than your standard 4-5th outfielder and that worked out fine. Really, having a no-hit, plus-defending center fielder is something that even contenders can deal with, even if you’d like some more offense.

Taylor is organizational depth. He turns 25 next season and has only pitched 50 innings above A-ball. Corona was an international signee last year so he’s not near contributing to a contender like Houston.