Is Jeff Francoeur The New Kyle Davies?

Last month, we started hearing that the Kansas City Royals were pursuing a contract extension with right fielder Jeff Francoeur. Thursday morning, Bob Dutton reports that it's actually happening:

Outfielder Jeff Francoeur reaped a benefit Thursday from a strong bounce-back season by agreeing to a two-year contract extension that will keep him with the Royals through 2013.

The Royals paid Kyle Davies a lot more money than he deserved, simply because Davies came up through the Braves' farm system when current Royals general manager Dayton Moore was working for Atlanta. We're probably going to say the same about Francoeur in a couple of years (if not sooner).

Of course, we can't really begin to evaluate Francoeur's new deal until we've got the financial details.

Does it really matter? Ask me when we've got the financials. If they're paying him somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million per season, his contract can do only so much damage. This season he's making around $3 million, and there had been a mutual $4 million option for next season. So $5 million doesn't seem out of line, considering that Francoeur's actually going to wind up being "worth" something like $10 million this season.

But it's worth mentioning that Francoeur was worth something like zero million from 2008 through 2010.

Yeah. That's how poorly he played for three full seasons. Do the last four-and-half months tell us more about Francoeur than the previous three years?

Somebody has to play right field, and right now Francoeur's the best candidate. But next year, too? And in 2013? Melky Cabrera's younger than Francoeur, and having a better 2011 (not to mention a better career). If you could choose one of them for 2012 and '13, wouldn't Melky be your man? The Royals do have a solid center-field prospect named Lorenzo Cain, currently hitting .306/.376/.506 with triple-A Omaha. The Royals' best hitter this season has been left fielder Alex Gordon, who is still cheap.

So that's four outfielders for three spots, leaving us to assume that a) Melky Cabrera's not coming back next season, or b) management's not impressed by Lorenzo Cain. Both of which might wind up looking foolish.

But again, it comes back to the money. There's a decent chance that Francoeur will be worth nothing in 2013 and beyond, in which case whatever the Royals are paying him will be utterly wasted, like the $4.2 million spent on Kyle Davies this season. Sometimes being an ex-Brave can be highly profitable.

UPDATE: Oops! They gave him too much. Naturally. It's what they do.

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