Yankees sign Ben Francisco to minor league deal

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Add another body to the right-handed hitting outfield bat competition. The Yankees have signed Ben Francisco to a minor league contract, Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters in Tampa. The Indians released him earlier this morning despite an 8-for-20 showing in camp that included six doubles, five walks, and four strikeouts.

Francisco, 31, actually scored the first run in New Yankee Stadium history with the Indians back in 2009. He hit .240/.285/.385 (82 wRC+) with four homers in 207 plate appearances for the Blue Jays, Astros, and Rays last season, and over the last three years he’s shown basically no platoon split: .247/.315/.408 (97 wRC+) against lefties and .252/.324/.380 (94 wRC+) against righties. Francisco is average at best in the outfield, though he has experience in all three spots. He’s not much of a stolen base threat anymore either.

The Yankees had some interest in Francisco back in January, before he hooked on with Cleveland, and he’ll now compete with veterans Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera for roster spot. In the wake of Curtis Granderson‘s forearm injury, I have to think at least one of those guys will make the team. Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, Thomas Neal, and Ronnie Mustelier are also candidates. Considering the injuries and lost offense, there’s no harm whatsoever in adding players on minor league pacts to compete for spots. The more the merrier.

Categories : Transactions


  1. Havok9120 says:

    I was wondering about this when I saw he’d been released this morning.

  2. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    Can’t play 1B
    Can’t play 3B
    Doesn’t hit for power


    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Won’t be around if he sucks. We won’t have Juan Rivera, Diaz, Francisco, et al, all on our 40 man. Most of them will be gone at the end of spring training.

  3. ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa says:

    Not needed

  4. Betty Lizard says:

    Well, it means I can keep singing, “Ben Francisco, open your golden gate” as he walks to the plate, which is, admittedly, wrong on many levels.

  5. Greg says:

    why do we assume that someone that couldn’t make the Indians can play for the Yankees?

  6. Eddard says:

    YES! Now we’re just one Derek Lee signing away from getting back to the World Series! This guy is no better than the kids in our farm system who should be given a shot. Stop trying to find another Andruw Jones and take your chances with youth as we did in 96.

  7. Jim Is Bored says:

    Cheap, minor league deal, no commitment. If we could sign every available player to these terms, I’d be ok with it. Hell, we could sign dalelama to a minor league deal and I’d like the risk.

  8. Travis L. says:

    All this does is provide outfield depth for AAA since (and I’m guessing here) Almonte or Mesa stay with the big club and Adonis Garcia got hurt. He is “competing” only because (again, guessing here) that was part of the draw for him to sign here. The competition is already well underway, so there is too much ground for him to make up, unless he rakes (extremely well) through the rest of ST. But if he was doing that, Cleveland wouldnt have released him.

    • jsbrendog says:

      exactly. and unless there is an opt out clause, he’s stuck but signs anyway cause he has the CHANCE to compete and play for a possibly winning team.

      and opt outs are usually for formerly good to great players trying to reestablish themselves and not guys who kinda were never was beens.

  9. Robinson Tilapia says:


    Who gives a shit. Welcome to OF WARZ, Ben. I doubt you’ll win it, but the more, the merrier.

    That guy giving you the dirty look over there goes by “Big City of Dreams.”

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Something in me wishes we’d go back to the days where fans didn’t hear about anything going on in the front office.

      Simpler times.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Your prospects were the guys who showed up in the “On the Way Up” section of the yearbook. You take your Vic Mata and Ray Fontenot and LIKE IT.

        Information is always better. You just have to deal with people too dumb to know what to do with it.

        I just described the entirety of the internets.

    • Steve says:

      That spelling joke in all caps never gets old. Seriously, keep trotting it out there. Gets a huge laugh every time

  10. GT Yankee says:

    Depth is okay. Got a feeling though a trade is going to bring along a modest player back for the job.

  11. Wyguy says:

    Home run call will definitely be “It’s a Ben Francisco Treat!!!”

  12. Rick says:

    Because any time you can sign a guy whose last name is the same as the first name of a player competing to be your starting catcher, you have to do it. Round and round we go, who will be the best Francisco in camp, nobody knows…

  13. Manny's BanWagon says:

    I don’t understand why people are complaining about signing Francisco or talking to Rolen, Lee or Jones.

    It’s 3 weeks before the season starts. Who the heck do they think is available at this point?

    Bottom line is if you don’t have internal solutions to fill these holes, these kinds of guys are the best you can do. Hope they can hold the fort until Grandy, Teix and Arod hopefully come back healthy and productive. It may not be pretty but it’s the reality of the situation.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Of course you understand why. If you’re not yelling loud enough, or acting spoiled enough….

      • Tom says:

        While some of the comments are like this… there is some impact.

        You have 5 guys (Rivera/Diaz/Mesa/RonnieM/Francisco) that now need to be evaluated over the last 3 weeks of Spring Training. Assuming the Yankees still get Hafner AB’s at DH and Gardner and Ichiro start ramping up, there aren’t a ton of in game AB’s to go around (especially as you want to get these guys AB’s off non-scrubs so you can actually evaluate them)

        And since many of these MiLB contract guys probably have opt out dates (not sure how Francisco’s contract is structured), it’s not even really a “depth” move, unless folks are referring to depth in the month of March.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          There’s also less evaluating to be done. They all have some sort of track record.

          Also, the guys currently playing the later innings are going to all be in MiLB camp soon. There’s going to be some time. Not a ton, but not impossible.

          Ronnie can played at other positions as well.

          It’s possible one, or more, of three vets accepts an MiLB assignment. Being a phone call away from playing for the Yankees isn’t the worst place to be.

          • Tom says:

            I’m just saying there is an impact to the meme “the more the merrier”, “can’t hurt”, “might as well do this for every available guy”

            At some point there is an impact. Whether it’s Almonte or Neal getting dispositioned more quickly (this is a minor impact as they would have to go on a hitting spree to get any consideration) or AAA guys getting less of a chance to impress and break camp with the club.

            Not sure Francisco impacts this much at this point, but I just don’t see the point unless there is some understanding that he will stick around in AAA if he doesn’t make the team.

            In addition to asking “why not?”, folks should also ask “why?”. Again if he is sticking around in AAA if he doesn’t make the team, then there is a legitimate answer to “why”?

            • Havok9120 says:

              It amuses me that someone would talk down “depth through the end of March” after watching the injury train these last two weeks. Especially since it was two of our (theoretically) least injury prone players who went down. We have no idea what will happen in the next three weeks.

              • dalelama says:

                When your farm system is as empty as ours and your big leaguers have untradeable contracts you have no other choice.

              • Tom says:

                The Yankees have lost one outfielder this spring.

                They have 4 guys competing for 2 OF spots. (I’m excluding Almonte and Neal). Francisco provides “depth” in the sense that it’s now a 5th guy competing for those 2 spots and if the ‘injury train’ wipes out 3 LF options over the next 3 weeks he could be an important piece. Otherwise it’s just fodder, and there is way too much being made of “depth” when it is March depth.

                (Again if the Francisco signing is not the standard opt out type MiLB deal and he is a viable AAA option going into the season, then it is actually a nice “depth” move)

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              The AAA/AAAA guys will have a chance to prove themselves all year in the minors though.

              If the veteran guys don’t catch on, they’ll be gone. I don’t think they’ll be taking anyone’s minor league at bats in april.

            • ClusterDuck says:

              I agree with your point.

  14. Herby says:

    you don’t need to give him a lot of playing time because you know what he can’t do. He’s a stash in AAA player in case lightning strikes your OF. Probably will get released by the end of spring. I’d be happier if they didn’t bother but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Given the way you described the signing and your expectation that he’ll be released by the end of the month, why would you be happy if they didn’t bother? I’m just curious.

  15. zs190 says:

    He’s having a nice spring and he used the opt-out in his contract to sign with the Yankees because he feels like he has more chance at play time.

    Agree with what most said before, it’s a minor league deal, he’s having a nice spring, nobody in this competition is a can’t miss talent anyways, give him a look and cut him loose if it doesn’t work.

  16. Todd Gack says:

    What about Karim Garica? Saw him in the classic. He was looking…fit.

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