Left-handed starting pitcher Jeff Francis will try to keep his Major League career alive with Cincinnati Reds in 2014. He signed a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp with the team on Monday.
ESPN‘s Jerry Crasnick reported the deal:
Pitcher Jeff Francis has agreed to a minor league deal with #reds. Includes invite to big league camp.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 13, 2014
During his prime, Francis won 13 or more games three seasons in a row for the Colorado Rockies (the team that drafted him). That included getting the nod for game one of the 2007 World Series. His decline has been slow and gradual since then, with at least a season lost to injury in the process.
Francis returned to the Rockies for 2012 and 2013. Last season he pitched in 23 games: 12 as the starter and 11 out of the bullpen. In both roles he posted an ERA north of 6.00.
A soft-tossing guy who relies on location and deception to keep hitters off balance, Francis was at his best when he had hitters lunging at his slow curve ball and falling behind his not-so-fast fastball. It has been a long time since we saw that version of Francis, however, and it will frankly be a surprise if he breaks camp with the Reds.