Former Blue Jay Juan Francisco to Rays on Minors Deal


Last season, many fans were frustrated with the high strikeout totals of the Toronto Blue Jays. One of the lightning rods for said frustration was Juan Francisco. It was very clear that he would not be returning to the Blue Jays in 2015. Now, it appears that he has found a new home. According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, J-Frank has signed a minor league deal with the Tamp Bay Rays.

Next: Is Munenori Kawasaki Returning on Minors Deal?

In 106 games for the Blue Jays, Francisco slashed .220/.291/.456 with 16 HR and 43 RBI. When he was called up from Buffalo, he impressed with his power. At the time, it had appeared that GM, Alex Anthopoulos had caught lightning in a bottle with Francisco. And, had he only been relied on for the occasional at bat, that would have been a welcome sight.

However, injuries, etc being what they were, the Blue Jays had to rely on regular at bats for the 27 year old Dominican. That’s when pitchers caught on and adjusted to his free swinging ways. By season’s end, he would see just 37% of pitches in the strike zone. As well, they caught on to the fact that anything off speed would wreak havoc for J-Frank. All of this led to a strike out rate of 36.3%!

It was times like this where Francisco came up in key situations and ended things by whiffing that frustrated many. And, do we even need to explore his .116 average versus left handed pitching? It may not bode well for him that he only hit .238 against righties, though.

There were times when J-Frank brought solid defense at 3rd, but overall it was not great. He was worth  -7 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and a UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating/ 150 innings) of -11.6.

With the ability to fill in at 3rd and 1st, Francisco offers some value. But, as Blue Jays fans are well aware, his value is in his bat and could be a welcome DH. The Red Sox claimed Francisco off waivers back in November, but that didn’t last very long either.

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  • The Tampa Bay Rays have had an interesting off season thus far most notably by losing their manager (Joe Maddon) and GM, (Andrew Friedman)  to the Chicago Cubs and LA Dodgers respectively. Then, they traded Wil Myers to San Diego and just recently sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to Oakland. With Evan Longoria being the only holdover from that great 2008 Rays’ season it’ll be interesting to see how 2015 plays out for them.

    As for Juan Francisco, a minor league deal means he will be taking a cut from his $1.35M 2014 salary and depending on how the Rays’ roster shapes up, could be seeing time at Tropicana Field in 2015. The Blue Jays will play the Rays lots, so their pitchers will need to brush up on their off speed stuff.