Phillies Want Jeff Francoeur Back in 2016

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies and outfielder Jeff Francoeur have mutual interest in a reprisal role in 2016. Francoeur signed with the Phillies on a minor league deal in November and made the Opening Day roster out of spring training, earning a $950,000 salary.

If Francoeur were to return to the Phillies again next season, he would likely be able to negotiate a major league contract, but he wouldn’t earn much more than $1 or $2 million. This year, he’s put up slightly below average numbers, slashing .257/.287/.427 for an adjusted OPS (OPS+) of 92, below the average of 100. Factor in his defense and he’s been worth one win below a replacement level player.

The Phillies wouldn’t be bringing Francoeur back next year for his production, however. As Salisbury writes, Francoeur has been “a much-needed veteran voice in the clubhouse and mentor to younger players”. In essence, he would be more like a second bench coach with a spot on the 25-man roster. There’s value in that for the Phillies, given the newfound youth throughout the organization. Francoeur is respected and well-liked in the clubhouse and could bridge any hierarchical divide between the players and coaches, as he has done this year.

Francoeur wouldn’t be taking up a roster spot nor the playing time of a more deserving player. Giving him a contract in 2016 would be a solid, forward-thinking move by the Phillies. It’s not something they need to do, but their fifth outfielder next year wouldn’t be much better in terms of on-field value anyway without all of the other benefits Francoeur provides.

Leave a Reply

*

23 comments

  1. 100Bucks

    September 24, 2015 03:53 PM

    This is an interesting sociological question. Who makes the best veteran presence? I don’t think that a guy who is still battling to start (Utley, Howard, Rollins) are necessarily good veterans on a young team because they need to be concerned about their own performance first – not watching others from the bench. Thats why I always disagreed with the Utley-is-a-mentor argument. In other words, You can’t be a mentor to Hernandez when you are trying to keep him on the bench.
    Frenchie is a good guiy and can mentor from the bench but his problem is that he has never shown excellence. So, what is he teaching? What does his personal story say to a young player?
    I think Ruiz has become the 2nd catcher and therefore can mentor from the bench without impeding the growth of other players. He has achieved excellence and come up big in the biggest moments (like avoiding that bat on the dribbler and throwing a strike to Howard to finish the playoff no hitter against the Reds.)
    I would like to see someone who is near the end of his career but has shown excellence. Ichiro comes to mind as the type I am thinking of.

    • Rosetta

      September 24, 2015 05:00 PM

      Yeah, but how many phillies can speak Japanese? Only Chooch.

      • Romus

        September 25, 2015 12:28 PM

        Then there is also Tadahito Iguchi.

  2. Bob

    September 24, 2015 04:48 PM

    Poor hitter. Poor fielder. Poor baserunner. No upside. There’s no reason to sign Francoeur until we see if someone with more upside is available in free agency. We went through this same thing last year with Grady Sizemore where we rushed to sign him before exploring the market. Signing someone because he has a good personality and not exploring all available options is bad business.

    MacPhail has already selected next year’s manager, which is a GM function. Now, he’s engaging in free agent acquisition. Why would someone want to be GM here if MacPhail is going to exert control over what have traditionally been GM duties?

    • ASK

      September 25, 2015 06:10 AM

      +1

    • Michael C Lorah

      September 25, 2015 08:43 AM

      I don’t think McPhail is making that decision at all. From Francouer’s quote:

      “There’s mutual interest in me coming back,” he said before Wednesday night’s game. “They’ve got a lot going on in the front office with the general manager search, with Pete (Mackanin) taking over as manager. Like anything else, there will be an appropriate time to address it, but there’s mutual interest.”

      All that’s been said is: there is interest, but this is also not the time to address it. And there should be interest – it IS valuable to the young guys to see a veteran taking it day by day, and a bat who can come off the bench and put one into the seats is useful to have. There should also be consideration to going another way and letting Frenchy walk. But McPhail hasn’t signed any players and nor is he likely to sign any players. He can offer his opinion that Francouer has had value to the Phillies this year, and then the GM and the rest of the front office can spitball ideas and decide which direction to go – when it is time to make that decision.

      • Bob

        September 25, 2015 10:28 AM

        Here is a list from MLB Trade Rumors of available FA OFers. Francouer is not the BPA.

        There are plenty of bats that can come off the bench and put one in the seats as listed below who are better than Francouer. Some of them can actually play defense, contribute more than the occasional HR, and run the bases too. There are plenty of vets listed below with more value than Francouer who can take it day by day as you put it. There are plenty of vets below who have higher upside than Francouer who are good clubhouse guys and can mentor our youths.

        Left Fielders

        Yoenis Cespedes (30)
        Rajai Davis (35)
        Alejandro De Aza (32)
        David DeJesus (36) – $5MM club option with a $1MM buyout
        Chris Denorfia (35)
        Jonny Gomes (35) – $3MM vesting/club option
        Alex Gordon (32) – $12.5MM player option
        Kelly Johnson (34)
        Matt Joyce (31)
        David Murphy (34) – $7MM club option with a $500K buyout
        Gerardo Parra (29)
        Steve Pearce (33)
        Colby Rasmus (29)
        Sean Rodriguez (31)
        Skip Schumaker (36) – $2.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
        Justin Upton (28)
        Chris B. Young (32)
        Delmon Young (30)

        Center Fielders

        Rajai Davis (35)
        Dexter Fowler (30)
        Austin Jackson (29)
        Colby Rasmus (29)
        Denard Span (32)
        Drew Stubbs (31)

        Right Fielders

        Nori Aoki (34) – $5.5MM club option with a $700K buyout
        Jose Bautista (35) – $14MM club option with a $1MM buyout
        Marlon Byrd (38) – $8MM vesting option
        Alejandro De Aza (32)
        David DeJesus (36) – $5MM club option with a $1MM buyout
        Chris Denorfia (35)
        Jason Heyward (26)
        Torii Hunter (40)
        Matt Joyce (31)
        David Murphy (34) – $7MM club option with a $500K buyout
        Gerardo Parra (29)
        Ryan Raburn (35) – $3MM club option with a $100K buyout
        Colby Rasmus (29)
        Alex Rios (35)
        Grady Sizemore (33)
        Ichiro Suzuki (42)
        Justin Upton (28)
        Will Venable (33)
        Shane Victorino (35)
        Chris B. Young (32)

        Who is expressing this interest about retaining Francouer that you try to minimize? The bat boy? It’s obviously MacPhail. When the team president conveys an interest in having you around, that’s significant like when Montgomery wanted to re-sign Howard, Utley, Rollins, et al. RAJ did what he was told.

        The team president is the ultimate decision-maker and gets what he wants. In fact, this is so significant that it’s been written about in almost every daily paper, here, TGP, HBT, etc. Heck, the title of this article is “Phils Want Francoeur Back for 2016.”

        MacPhail could have spitballed ideas about keeping Mackanin with the incoming GM too. But he elected not to. It’s just odd to me that in the past week we have MacPhail signing a manager and conveying to Francoeur that the Phils want him back when these decisions are traditionally discussed with the new GM.

      • Rob

        September 25, 2015 10:41 AM

        I’m not saying I’m in favor of bringing back Francouer, but the question of who is the best player available in free agency doesn’t really apply to the Phillies. They’re not going to be contending for anything next year.

      • Bob

        September 25, 2015 11:09 AM

        It matters greatly. There are other factors that need to be weighed (duration of deal, cost, age of player, projections). Obviously signing Cespedes to a 10 year 200 million dollar contract because he’s one of the BPA is bad business. But I find it quite difficult to believe that for a comparable rate of pay and contract length we can’t get someone who has more value than Frenchie.

      • Rob

        September 25, 2015 01:43 PM

        I still don’t understand why it matters greatly.

      • Bob

        September 25, 2015 02:15 PM

        Right now, Francoeur is a negative value player in the field, on the basepaths, and defensively. His redeeming quality is purportedly that he’s a good clubhouse guy, which is difficult to quantify.

        For instance, is he a better clubhouse guy than Nori Aoki? Gerrardo Parra? Matt Joyce? Is Francoeur grittier than Alex Rios? Maybe Francouer leads Rios in grit but Rios is a better cliche-generator. Maybe Francouer knows more unwritten rules, but Colby Rasmus gets more dirt per square inch on his uniform when he slides. Maybe Francouer is better at policing the clubhouse but Steve Pearce excels at giving maximum effort in running out sure-fire ground ball outs. Maybe Francouer spends more time in the batting cage than Chris Denorfia but Denorfia watches more tape. Personally, I think this good clubhouse guy stuff is all nonsense and view Francouer as a negative value such that he has zero upside and can’t even be traded for a marginal lottery ticket.

        You think it’s irrelevant who the Phils sign because they’re not going to compete anyway. A placeholder of negative value or positive value doesn’t matter because they won’t be here anyway when it’s time to compete. You probably think that a mid-season trade for a lottery ticket is valueless because the chances of hitting are so small. I’d rather have that chance.

        I, on the other hand, think that you need to go BPA while assessing all factors (contract length, amount, projections, etc.). I’d rather go with someone who can generate some positive value and who has the chance of netting us a lottery ticket than someone who I view as negative value. The difference between a player with negative value and someone with positive value is great because it opens doors and leads to options down the line to improve the team. A player with negative value does not give you that chance.

      • Michael C Lorah

        September 25, 2015 02:40 PM

        All I did was offer his quote for context. He said there is “interest.” Baseball executives have “interest” in a thousand different possibilities, including retaining players and finding new players. He also said this is not the time to act on it, because there is no GM and that GM is clearly going to have a voice in the matter.

        Secondly, the mutual interest does not have to come from McPhail. It could easily be Mackanin saying that he’s going to lobby the front office to bring Frenchy back. That’s not to say McPhail does or doesn’t have interest – none of us here have the faintest idea, so it’s an overreaction, in my eyes, to assume that McPhail is over-stepping himself and sabotaging any interest a top GM candidate might have.

        And finally, as to Francouer’s negative value, I think WAR has some value, but I also think it has some limits. It’s based on the notion that you can find some warm body to give you at least a 0.0 WAR season and, quite frankly, I’ve seen no evidence that a warm body can do that much. Every team has a Francouer, a Kevin Frandsen, a Dan Uggla or whomever. As I said above, the Phillies should have interest in Francouer. And they should have interest in other options. Nothing’s been committed to. Nobody’s offered Francouer anything.

        That’s all I’m saying, man. Of course there’s interest, but baseball executives are always looking for options in a lot of different areas. Jeff’s one option among many. That’s it.

      • ASK

        September 27, 2015 06:46 AM

        Michael C Lorah,

        I agree with you to the extent that they should consider Frenchy among the options if they decide that they want a veteran 5th OF. To me, signing Frenchy is a move that a team should make in January after pursuing better players for a similar price. I think the trouble that some fans see comes from the fact that last October, in their first moves of the off-season, the Phils guaranteed money (and essentially 25 man roster spots) to both Grady Sizemore and Jerome Williams, each of whom looked likely to produce negative value. If they start the off-season by re-signing Frenchy, it will look like the same old Phillies, despite the change from RAJ / Monty to MacPhail.

      • Michael C Lorah

        September 27, 2015 07:29 AM

        ASK, that’s more than fair. I’ll argue though that neither Sizemore nor Williams’ presence on the roster or payroll hampered the Phillies from doing anything they wanted to do. It’ll be a minimal financial commitment and they can DFA him any time.

        In a perfect world, yes, they wait until January to sign Jeff, if they do at all. If they sign him earlier, I take that more as a sign of the front office’s personal respect for him (I’m sure he’d like to have a contract sooner rather than later) rather than any belief that he’s part of the future here.

        We’ll just have to wait and see about how this relates to signing a GM.

      • ASK

        September 27, 2015 08:24 AM

        Michael,

        I find it funny that RAJ got a lot of praise (and rightly so) for signing and trading Roberto Hernandez, but those who always defend him – and to be clear I am not putting you in this category – suggest that the Sizemore and Williams signings were okay because the Phils could afford to waste the roster spots on those guys. While neither Sizemore nor Williams hampered the Phils payroll, they did come with a cost…the opportunity cost of signing someone better, who might have had value at the trade deadline. There were at least a few Sizemore-like OF’s signed last off-season (Jonny Gomes and Kelly Johnson come to mind immediately) by non-contenders, who were then flipped for lottery tickets at the trade deadline. I suspect that there was a free agent pitcher or two who a non-contender signed and swapped for a lottery ticket.

        My point is yes, the Phils can afford to waste money on Jeff Francouer, but it will be disappointing if they rush to do so at the outset of the off-season instead of looking for a better option who projects to be replacement level or better and who has a better chance to have trade value next July.

      • Bill Baer

        September 27, 2015 10:23 AM

        @ ASK

        The Phillies aren’t at the point in their rebuild anymore where they need to sign low-cost veterans in an attempt to flip them. They have plenty of minor league depth now. Their focus now is maximizing the major league potential out of all of them.

      • Bob

        September 27, 2015 02:58 PM

        Bill,

        Where is all this OF depth? You can put Herrera in CF, but a sophomore slump is a real possibility. Altherr could probably take one corner, but who else is going to play? Sweeney is not ready and might not be a major leaguer. Dugan spent most of the year injured again. Perkins struggled. Quinn needs some time in the minors after returning from that devastating injury. Ruf and Asche shouldn’t be starting. Brown is likely gone. Cozens and Williams will start the year in the minors. We’ll probably need some veteran OF help to at least start the year.

    • Big Bird Robinson

      September 25, 2015 11:15 AM

      There’s no way you can really opine on this unless you’re in the clubhouse & hang out with the team……who knows just what he brings from an attitude, work environment standpoint – none of us really knows. Obviously, he’s not being kept around purely for his baseball talent.

  3. Romus

    September 25, 2015 07:45 AM

    As a fifth -OFer he would serve a useful purpose. Bring him back for one more year, or maybe thru the trade deadline. Who is he blocking, maybe Kelly Dugan/Cam Perkins….what is the down side!

  4. dejesus54

    September 25, 2015 12:36 PM

    Jerome Williams redux.

    On the other hand, I have no objections to this, as opposed to more expensive free agents who could mean the difference between 65 and 75 wins and a worse draft pick. One year of tank isn’t enough, even if we don’t need a full Sixers/Astros tank.

    On the other other hand, I had no objections to Jerome Williams either, and I don’t think “a solid, forward-thinking move by the Phillies” involves either Jeff Francoeur or Jerome Williams.

  5. larry

    September 25, 2015 03:53 PM

    as long as they stick to that plan and keep him as a 5th outfielder i am OK with it…but these “veteran presences” have a way of getting too much game time once the season starts.
    Larry

  6. GB

    September 26, 2015 10:05 AM

    If it is for 1 year, I have no problem with it, but the Phillies hopefully have learned their lesson and should NEVER consider signing Francouer for any longer term. During the rebuild, we need maximum payroll and roster spot flexibility and should be trying out all kinds of players at almost every position to figure out who can stick and who cannot.

Next ArticleCrash Bag: Season 3, Episode 1