The Indians have signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. Armed with a winning personality, some power and a flashy throwing arm, Francoeur had managed to secure regular work as an everyday player throughout his nine-year career despite being the second-least productive player with at least 4000 plate appearances since he joined the league in 2005. However, it appears his last chance as a regular may have come in 2013. Last season, the former first-round pick began the year as the Royals starting right fielder, but his steadily rising strikeout rate and famous lack of plate discipline carried him to a .208/.249/.322 line and a July release. He was picked up by the Giants a few days after being dumped by Kansas City, but he lasted less than two months there, posting a .194/.206/.226 in very limited action with San Francisco. At this point, he looks like a stretch to make any major league team, but he will at least get a shot.
Indians sign Scott Atchison to a minor league deal
The Indians also picked up veteran reliever Scott Atchison on a minor league deal. The 37-year-old righty posted a 4.37 ERA over 45 1/3 innings with the Mets in 2013. Despite his advanced age and 2013 struggles, Atchison gives the tribe some added depth in the minors and he has some potential value at the major-league level as well. In 2012, Atchison had the best season of his career as a member of the Red Sox, posting a 1.58 ERA over 51 1/3 innings before arm trouble landed him on the DL.
Pirates will invite Jameson Taillon to their major league spring training camp
22-year-old top prospect Jameson Taillon will get a shot at earning a major league gig next season. The Pirates will invite the pitcher to their major league camp this spring, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Baseball America ranked Taillon as the 19th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2013 season and after a strong 2013 campaign split between Double-A and Triple-A, he should once again rate near the top of that list. The hard-throwing righty posted a 3.73 ERA in 147 1/3 innings across the two levels.
Free agent shortstop Stephen Drew is 'perfectly healthy'
It has been a tough offseason for former Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew thus far, but the lack of offers can't be blamed on health issues, sources tell Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The 30-year-old Scott Boras-client has received little interest this winter after rejecting Boston's qualifying offer. The Mets are one of the few teams still linked to him and they appear unwilling to consider a multi-year deal to land him at this point. Even with this report clearing up health concerns, the outlook for Drew this winter is still bleak. The added cost of draft pick compensation hurts his market, especially when it comes to rebuilding clubs, and few teams that can afford to give him a multi-year deal are in need of a shortstop this winter.
Tigers new manager Brad Ausmus is no sabermetrician
Speaking in a TigerTalk segment of on 97.1 The Ticket radio in Detroit, first-year manager Brad Ausmus cleared the air about his background in statistical analysis, saying he believes such techniques are for, "after-the-fact ... it doesn't blend too close into game action," and explaining that "people got the thought that, because of my age and my background, I'm a sabermetrician...[snip]...I'm really not." With that cleared up, the only question remaining is: will he make his players were bow ties and introduce them to interesting snakes?
Robinson Cancel to coach with Braves' Triple-A club
Another former catcher, Robinson Cancel, appears to be on the express track in his new career. The fringe major league backstop is beginning his life as a coach at Triple-A for the Braves, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Cancel saw time in the majors in parts of four seasons between 1999 and 2011 and played 20 seasons in the minors.