It wasn’t all that long ago that Jeff Francoeur was a potential target for the Cleveland Indians in their never-ending search for a right-handed bat. On Monday evening, the Tribe announced that they have officially signed the former Gold Glove winner to a minor league contract, making him one of 12 non-roster invites to their impending big league training camp.
Francoeur, who turns 30 on Wednesday, owns a career Major League batting average of .263 with 250 doubles, 25 triples, 140 home runs and 618 runs batted in through 1,227 games with Atlanta, New York (Mets), Texas, Kansas City and San Francisco. He has driven in at least 75 runs over four different campaigns (2006-07, 2009, 2011), won his Gold Glove in 2007 and has the second-most assists (121) of any active Major League outfielder.
As recent as 2011 for the Royals, Francoeur put up a slash line of .285/.329/.476/.805 with 47 doubles (2nd in AL), 20 home runs and 87 runs batted in.
According to a recent report from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Francouer had LASIK surgery and has decided to go to a lighter bat in an attempt to salvage his career after an admittedly dreadful 2012 and 2013. Only he and All-Star first baseman Chris Davis used 35-ounce bats last season.
This has the makings of another Chris Antonetti gamble that could pay huge dividends if everything falls into line as it did last season with Scott Kazmir. Worst case scenario, the team is out a few dollars and the former feel-good story is left to resuscitate his career elsewhere.