Yankees sign Ben Francisco to minor league deal

2013 Season Preview: The Left Fielders
Pineda scheduled to resume throwing sliders on Tuesday
(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.

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2013 Season Preview: The Left Fielders
Pineda scheduled to resume throwing sliders on Tuesday
  • Havok9120

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

    • trr

      wow…they jumped right on him.
      His brother Sam is a better hitter

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

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

    Meh.

    • Jim Is Bored

      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.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    Not needed

    • Havok9120

      Isn’t that the definition of depth? A spare part that is not needed but might play some role should things go wrong?

      • jjyank

        Yep. No risk here.

  • Betty Lizard

    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.

    • BTG

      Actually, that may be John Sterling’s Home Run call for him. Either that or “I left my heart with Ben Francisco”.

      • Betty Lizard

        That it could be Sterling’s home run call just illustrates how ashamed I should be.

  • Greg

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

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Especially since the Indians stand out for their player evaluation given their long and glorious track record.

    • jsbrendog

      why do you assume someone cut by the indians didn’t just get cut because they have other options and no one would take him in trade cause they knew he would be cut? learn baseball.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Your “nothing of any intelligence in a comment” streak is becoming rather Undertaker-esque.

      At this rate, “The Real Greg” gets a plaque in Monument Park.

    • Cool Lester Smooth

      Chris Dickerson isn’t going to make the Orioles, and everyone here wants him.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You just broke the internet.

        • Montgomery!

          What do you mean by that?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            The combined impact of the minds that were blown from the above comment led to the destruction of the internet. You probably won’t even be able to read this.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          Hahaha, I try.

    • Magilla Gorilla

      The Indians have Swisher

  • Eddard

    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.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Dude, I’ve thought you’ve been better lately, but are you really upset at the Andruw Jones signing?

    • jsbrendog

      ok eddard, so they go with the kids. then who plays OF in aaa? idiot.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Haha jsbrendog is pissssssed.

        • jsbrendog

          stupid trolls, getting to me today ha

          • Jim Is Bored

            I hear you. We all have those days.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              I’m glad Pat D appears busy. He may just kill a guy today.

              • Jim Is Bored

                I rely on the commoners here to let me know if I’m out of line. Some days I need to go on sabbatical, for sure.

                • Jim Is Bored

                  commoners regulars…

                  • Havok9120

                    A typo or the greatest typo?

                    No one knows.

                    • Robinson Tilapia

                      Holy fuck. I missed that.

                      THAT was awesome.

      • jsbrendog

        sorry, shouldn’t have called you an idiot. but…for god sakes.

        • jjyank

          It’s Eddard. We understand.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      Jeter was the only rookie that got significant playing time in 1996.

      If the Yankees have another MLB-ready future HOF in camp, they should absolutely give him a chance.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        But they do – Future Hall of Famer Ronnier Mustelier!

  • Jim Is Bored

    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.

    • jsbrendog

      he’d prob be a clubhouse cancer. i hear he has no veteran presents either.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Shit, you’re right. Although him spending more time at camp and less time on RAB might be considered RAB Veteran Presents?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          The only veteran presents you’d probably get would be crabs.

          • Jim Is Bored

            Maryland crabfest, dalelama’s treat.

            • dalelama

              My, my the homers escaped their mothers’ basements today.

              • BigDavey88

                Where do you live? Your dad’s attic?

  • Travis L.

    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

      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.

      • Travis L.

        A touch of sanity is refreshing after reading a paragraph from Eddard or dalelama, isn’t it?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    OMGZ TEH DUMPSTER DIVING N ROLLING GRAVEZ!

    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

      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

        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

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

      • Jim Is Bored

        When people learn to spell correctly, it’ll die.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com GT Yankee

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

  • Wyguy

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

    • Betty Lizard

      Oh lord.

      It could be worse: Rice-a-Ronnier!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      That’s…..a pretty nice job, actually.

      • Travis L.

        I was thinking the same thing. Anyone come up with one for Diaz or Juan “dont call me MO” Rivera?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I can’t deal with Dye-az. That pronounciation drives me batshit.

          “…and that’s ONE for JUAN!”

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

            Yeah, his grandkids introduced him to the internets over the off season…here’s the call for Diaz:

            I CAN HAZ DYE-AZ HOME RUN PLEASE?

  • Rick

    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…

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    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

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

      • Tom

        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

          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

            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

              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

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

              • Tom

                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

              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

              I agree with your point.

  • Herby

    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

      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.

      • Herby

        Just another distraction that in the long run isn’t really going to do the team anything worthwhile.

  • zs190

    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.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The definitive answer to all of this.

  • Todd Gack

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

    • ThisIsThePartOfTheShow

      Real tomato ketchup Eddie?