I know this post is going to cause a firestorm, due to Jeff Francoeur's mostly-awful performance the last two years and the fact that he was unconditionally released by a team that could use a guy just like him.
But hear me out. This is exactly the sort of player the Cubs could use, and frankly, if used properly, could be exactly what the Cubs thought they would be getting from the just-traded Scott Hairston.
First, read this:
Sources: Francoeur down to three teams, including #Reds. Other two teams not known.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 8, 2013
The Reds are currently starting an outfield most days of Xavier Paul, Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce, with Derrick Robinson and Chris Heisey as backups. Heisey has been nearly as bad as Francoeur this year; that might be what the Reds are looking at.
Maybe the Cubs are one of the other teams, though it's been rumored that the Giants are seeking a RH-hitting outfielder. Would any of those teams offer Francoeur more than a minor-league deal? The Cubs could put him directly on the major-league roster, as they'll have both a 40-man and 25-man spot open after the Hairston deal.
While Francoeur was bad last year and worse this year, lifetime against LHP -- in 1,272 at-bats, not a small sample size -- he's hit .287/.338/.471. Those numbers would be good enough to put him in a platoon role. Sign him and play him only against lefties. He's always been an excellent defensive outfielder and has a reputation as being a good clubhouse guy. As someone who's been unconditionally released, he'll be paid the rest of his $7.5 million contract this year by the Royals; he'd only need to be offered the prorated portion of the MLB minimum -- which the Cubs would have to pay anyone taking that roster spot.
To me, it's a no-brainer. Try him out. If he's still bad after a few weeks of platooning, just release him. If he can perform well enough in that platoon role, he's just 29 and could be a useful spare part for the next couple of years. There's almost literally no downside to giving him a shot.
There was at least some chatter via Twitter Sunday night that another Cubs option could be to add 34-year-old Darnell McDonald, who's been at Triple-A Iowa. McDonald is hitting .202/.286/.298. I know who I would choose. The Cubs will make a roster move before Monday's game against the White Sox. I'm hoping Frenchy will be in a Cubs uniform tonight.
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