Earlier today, Rob Biertempfel wrote that former Colorado Rockies’ starter Jeff Francis was on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ radar. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this afternoon that the Pirates were one of at least five teams who were interested in the left handed starter, mentioning the Mariners, Brewers, Astros, and Rockies as the other interested teams.
Francis is coming off a season in which he returned from labrum surgery, pitching in 104.1 innings. He had a 5.00 ERA, with a 5.78 K/9, a 1.98 BB/9, a 0.95 HR/9 ratio, and a 47% ground ball ratio. He was a bit unlucky, with a .322 BABIP and a 64.5% strand rate (the average for starters is around .300 and 70%). Due to this, Francis had a xFIP of 3.94, which is what his ERA should have been, based on his performance.
Francis wouldn’t command much more than a one year deal with a low guaranteed salary and a lot of incentives. An option year could also be a possibility, although it’s more likely that Francis would want a chance to re-enter the market next season after a chance at a bounce back year. The Pirates may have an advantage with Francis in Clint Hurdle, who managed Francis in Colorado from 2004-2008.