Jun 16, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur (21) is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after he scored a run during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.The Kansas City Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Francoeur Heading North for Blue Jays?


Outfielder Jeff Francoeur has found himself grounded in AAA El-Paso for all of 2014, stuck behind a strong outfield corps at the Major League level in San Diego.  Jeff Francoeur may soon benefit from a rolling opt-out clause in his Minor League contract, however, which allows him to leave El Paso for a Major League deal at any time. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish has reported that the Toronto Blue Jays could be a potential destination for the veteran outfielder.

Francoeur has experienced inconsistent levels of success at the Major League level since breaking onto the scene with back-to-back 100RBI seasons in Atlanta, as a rising star in 2006-’07.  Throughout time with the Braves, Mets, Royals, and short stints with the Rangers and Giants, Jeff Francoeur has compiled a slash line of .263 / .306 / .419.

Francoeur has struggled over the past two seasons, during which he was released by the Royals and struggled greatly with the Giants, and last performed at a high level as a full-time player in 2011, while still with Kansas City.  Under normal circumstances, this drought would be cause for concern.  However, this situation could cause intrigue unique to Alex Anthopolous and the Toronto Blue Jays because of Francoeur’s Hitting Coach in 2011: Kevin Seitzer.

Adding Jeff Francoeur to the Blue Jays outfield could provide a stable fourth outfielder for Toronto.  Rotating through Anthony Gose, Brad Glenn, Kevin Pillar, and Darin Mastroianni has certainly not sunk the Blue Jays, but bringing in Francoeur could eliminate the need for constant shuffling amongst the group.

One of the Blue Jays more glaring offensive weaknesses as of late, which is hitting left handed pitching, could possibly be aided by Francoeur as well, who slashes .285 / .335 / .465 against southpaws.  Furthermore, in AAA El Paso this season, Jeff Francoeur has hit .296 with 15HR and 53RBI.

 

Year Age Tm G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
2011 27 KCR 153 601 171 47 4 20 87 37 123 .285 .329 .476
2012 28 KCR 148 561 132 26 3 16 49 34 119 .235 .287 .378
2013 29 KCR 59 183 38 8 2 3 13 8 49 .208 .249 .322
2013 29 SFG 22 62 12 2 0 0 4 1 12 .194 .206 .226
9 Yrs 1227 4603 1209 250 25 140 618 248 906 .263 .306 .419
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/4/2014.

 

So, this begs the obvious question: why not?   Why has Jeff Francoeur not already been signed by one of the other 29 teams?  Unfortunately, there are two sides to statistics.  The numbers in 2013, as you see above, are horribly uninspiring.  Take notice of his 2012 season in Kansas City, as well, because Kevin Seitzer was still his Hitting Coach that season.  What went wrong there? I will also make the argument that his inflated AAA El Paso numbers this season are largely a product of batting in the Pacific Coast League, a known “hitter’s league”.

What plagues Jeff Francoeur greatest, however, is his career 18.27% strikeout rate, something he hasn’t even shook in the Minor Leagues.  Averaging just under one strikeout per ball game, Francoeur struggles to reach base and keep the lineup moving with effective AB’s.  Perhaps Francoeur is French for Francisco.

Francoeur’s over-aggression was precisely what Kevin Seitzer (who heaped praise onto Francoeur in 2011) worked to eliminate in his last prominent season.  The small distance between his Average and OBP will show you, though, that this may never be a part of Francoeur’s game.

A move for Francoeur certainly wouldn’t be done in hopes of adding significant new levels of production to the lineup.  It would be done to solidify the 4th outfielder spot with a veteran bat that can offer (hopefully) average performances despite irregular playing time.  I am not smitten with Jeff Francoeur’s swing-first mentality or recent struggles, but perhaps Alex Anthopolous wants to avoid having younger players (MLB experience-wise) like Glenn, Gose, or Pillar on the bench for 3-5 days between AB’s.  Francoeur has been around the league, tasted the playoffs with the Texas Rangers, and should be able to understand his role as a RH bench bat and occasional spot-starter.  Unfortunately, understanding your role and succeeding within it are two drastically different things.

I will recognize that it’s important to keep in mind that the addition of Jeff Francoeur is, basically, a free agent signing, and no trading of assets would be required.  This would make the move very low-risk.  Even though the move would only give the Blue Jays the “possibility” of a solid reserve outfielder, and a “chance” at re-igniting his bat with an old Hitting Coach, Toronto really has very little to lose.  Should “we have little to lose” really be an MLB team’s greatest argument for a Major League roster move while clinging to 1st in the AL East, though?  I hope not.  However, if there are nine reasons that point to “why bother?”, I still think that the Blue Jays front office may find ten pointing towards “why not?”.

In the perfect world, Anthony Gose, Kevin Pillar, or Darin Mastroianni would step up and begin to produce as a solid role player for the remainder of 2014.  The Blue Jays haven’t lived in that perfect world for a decade or two, but from their pool of fringe-level big leaguers split between Buffalo and Toronto, one of them has to click.  Right?..

Jeff Francoeur does have arguing points moving in his favour, and could provide a solid step for the Blue Jays, but at this point in his career, that step would most likely be sideways.

 

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  • Andrew van Laar

    I am down for some Francoeur. I am sure the Jays can get him on the cheap and I would rather have his K rate and ability to hit lefties than have Fransico who has a high K rate and can’t hit lefties. The only problem is who plays 3B while Lawrie is out? Or Keep Fransisco, put him on the bench vs lefties, have Tollefson play 3B and kawasaki at 2B with Francoeur as DH. Lind and Fransisco on the bench as power threats late in the game.

  • Godfather

    Yea .. he is the answer?!?!? I am tired of the Jays, their mega rich ownership and the columnists on this site that would suggest that trading right now is a potentially bad move. The jays are (sorry, were) in first place. When is the last time we have seen that; when is the next time the rest of the AL East will be this poor and the Jays will have this opportunity?????? BUT, lets save our prospects, b/c next year is the year ; ) Never heard that before?!?!? OH YEA .. I have >>>> The leafs, of course! Is this the Toronto Maple Leafs and their totally gullible fans that show up no matter how entirely non-commitmental and/or ignorant their ownership is?? That is not loyalty, it is stupidity that makes billionaires even richer when you buy tickets this year for the promise, “next year is our year.” My stupidity ended last weekend when I traveled 2 hours from London, dropped over $300 in tickets, beer and food to watch a team which consisted of half their farm system and guys I have never heard off or don’t want to. They won’t get my money anymore until they show they are willing to put a product on the field that can score more than a run in two games. Oh, but I am sure the over-aged, oft injured, out of the league Francoeur is the answer … have not laughed that hard since the last time a Leafs’ fan told me they had a chance of winning the cup, let alone making the playoffs!

    • http://www.jaysjournal.com/ Keegan Matheson

      I’d see a Francoeur signing much like I would see the Leafs annual Free Agency plug-signings: a move for the sake of making a move. Doesn’t kill your team, but doesn’t help you while other teams are making larger, more aggressive transactions. Impossible to know what goes on behind the scenes with Anthopolous, asking prices, etc., but I’m certainly in support of making a trade NOW, instead of waiting towards the end of July.

      Maybe I’m getting trigger-happy after sitting on the couch for 4+ hours of 0-0 just to see Melky boot one in the corner, but hey. If we are going to upgrade the team, wouldn’t you rather it be upgraded for AS MUCH of the remaining season as possible? This is the AL East, so the answer needs to be yes. So far, despite recent struggles, our team has finally played good AL East-level ball. It’s our front office’s turn now, I think.

    • RyanMueller

      I don’t think that we preach not making any trades, I am guilty of saying it, but most of the guys on this site seem in favour of making trades without selling the farm. Thanks for the comment and the passion….don’t give up on this team.

      • http://www.jaysjournal.com/ Keegan Matheson

        Well said, I don’t see much by the way of that myself. Constructive caution, certainly, which I think is a good thing.

        Every team, even playoff teams, have their stretches of terrible. This is ours. The last month has been tough, but if you had told me on April 1st that at this point in the season we would be 0.5 games out of 1st in the AL East, I’d have thought “Hey, not a bad place to start”.

        The sky is a bit cloudy, but it certainly isn’t falling.

        • Godfather

          Both good points … however ; )

          If you told me a month or so ago that we would be 0.5 games out of first place I would be totally disappointed. If you told me that the Jays would suffer a handful of critical injuries and a few of the role players that stepped up (notably Francisco and Gose) would come back to earth and the mega rich Jays ownership did nothing … I would be disgusted.

          The issue for me is simple .. I understand the idea of the ‘concept’ that the Jays need to make good valued trades. I am an educated man, I played double A baseball … I get it. BUT I don’t care. I am a fan. A FAN. Something lost in the era of salary caps, internet and chat boards. I am a fan. I don’t care if Sanchez is the future in ’2 years’ or some other position player is going to be a star in ’4 years.’ I want to win this year .. that is why I pay to go to games ‘this year’. “Fans” should not have to worry about the value of trades or any of those business considerations. When they drop $300 numerous times a season to go to a game, when they buy blue jays hats for their kids (who certainly don’t care about any of this) we want to see our team win. We want to see the organization that is worth billions of dollars try to earn our business and loyalty … not expect us to commit to them before they decide to commit to their fans.

          We justify the lack of financial commitment and trades, etc b/c we drank the cool-aide. The ‘businesses’ tell the ‘fans’ that in order to do good ‘business’ long term we have to make good ‘business’ decisions. And us … the fans .. who pay for this all and used to simply have to worry about getting to the game in time to get a good parking spot, a beer and hot dog, buy into it and justify it.. we are expected to have to worry about the ‘value of trades.’

          I call BS!!!! So respectfully .. I am not preaching. I am being a FAN. They have the money. Trade your good players to strengthen your farm system when you are losing. For the first time in nearly 2 decades we have a real chance and the ownership is totally blowing it!! The Jays FANS don’t deserve this.

          • http://www.jaysjournal.com/ Keegan Matheson

            I appreciate the passion, Godfather, and I always love to see a true Jays fan.

            The issue of money has long bothered me. For me, and many of us, going to a Blue Jays game involves travelling and money that isn’t always easy to scrape together. Does Rogers have the money to go out and pay for any player they like? Certainly. It’s hard to guess what goes on behind the scenes with the budget AA is allowed, but Rogers is risking losing the new “buzz” around the Blue Jays that arrived with the trades of 2012.

            Fans can only be patient for so long. If the Jays missed the playoffs for another 20 years, then yes, I would still be a fan, but it obviously does go frustrating. The fans deserve a playoff push THIS season, as you say. We’re within range of making a run, which we can’t guarantee will happen next year, or the next.

            Time to string a few scrappy wins together before the All-Star break, get healthy, and improve. And by improve, I mean some non-waiver moves. Ha.

            Here’s hoping, Godfather!

          • Godfather

            LMAO … The reference to ‘non-waiver’ moves was hilarious considering the context. I absolutely agree. After their season last year I think everyone was disappointed. For my part, I was certainly disappointed but not disappointed in the Organization for taking a chance and creating the awesome “buzz” around the team that you referred to. I drove from London to see over 10 games last year simply b/c I felt that the Organization stepped up; even if the players didn’t. It seems this year it is the other way around.

            Here is hoping, as you said, we could right the ship and gather some momentum before the All-Star (or the ‘tribute to Jeter’ lol) game. Hopefully, the Organization will step up in some capacity and I will absolutely make plans for my next trip to T-dot if they do : )

  • http://tailpipesports.wordpress.com/ Ryan Andrews

    Could Cory Aldridge be a potential stopgap solution? I know he’s 35, he’s had two cups of coffee at the MLB level at 22 (Braves) and 31(Angels), but he raked through the Mexican League in Monterrey and he’s been raking since he was acquired earlier this week. It might be lightning in a bottle, but he can’t be any worse then Brad Glenn, and he’ll definitely know his role. And we can pop him right back down when we get Martin Prado or Chase Headley.

    • http://www.jaysjournal.com/ Keegan Matheson

      Whoa, he must have had the game set to “Beginner” in AAA Monterrey! Big numbers.

      Right now, I’d take nearly anyone over Brad Glenn, and I do love a player with a good story. What a crazy career, 9 years between Big League AB’s, 1750+ Minor League games with over 7000 AB’s. A big chunk of them were K’s, but there’s certainly reasons that he’s stuck around this long. Lifetime Minor League warrior, if there ever was one!

  • JaysHopeful

    4th outfielder seems generous for a guy who hasn’t played CF in the MLB. I’m not opposed to the concept of a righty 5th outfielder with a good arm, but I may have preferred to keep Moises Sierra and given him a longer chance, you know, because he’s 25 and a product of the Jays development program. But that’s just me.