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A’s Claim Jeff Francis Off Waivers

May 18, 2014

An interesting move was made by Billy Beane and the Athletics brass today as they claimed lefty-Canadian hurler Jeff Francis off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. Francis will immediately join the Oakland bullpen as a long man, though I can see him inhabiting the role Travis Blackley held a few years back going from pen to rotation as needed. Francis had only one start in Cincinnati this season, a five inning outing during which he struck out four, walked no one, and allowed a home run and three earned runs getting the loss against the visiting San Diego Padres last Thursday. Prior to that he had spent the season with the Louisville Bats of the International League, tossing eight starts and 48 2/3 innings worth of 8.3 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 baseball for a 3.33 ERA and 3.08 FIP.

In his career which began in 2004, Francis has thrown 1,254 innings mostly in the thin air of Denver, posting a 4.94 ERA (4.39 FIP likes him a bit more) with 6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 and a 44.6% GB%. He has appeared in 229 games, only 12 of them not being starts and all but one of those relief appearances coming in 2013. It’ll be somewhat uncharted territory, but basically this is where he best fits the needs of the A’s and hopefully he can pull it together – thus far his relief appearances have been a struggle results-wise with a 7.09 ERA though his peripherals have garnered him a far superior 2.92 FIP.

Joe Savery will be sent to Sacramento to make room on the 25-man roster, while Jake Elmore‘s placement on the 60-day disabled list clears a 40-man roster spot for Francis. I like the move, its cost effective as Francis’ contract is so miniscule as to not be found anywhere (he signed an MiLB deal with Cincinnati in the offseason so it wasn’t worth a ton) and with pitchers dropping like flies one can never have enough depth, especially ones with the experience he has had. Also Francis has always most pitched in terrible parks for pitchers so I think his career numbers mark a more worst-case scenario for what he can do.

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