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Big League Stew

The Jeff Francoeur Era ends in Kansas City: Royals designate outfielder for assignment

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

Jeff Francoeur's disappointing two and a half year tenure with the Kansas City Royals reached the end of the road on Saturday. As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the team has elected to designate the 29-year-old outfielder for assignment, which gives them 10 days to trade, outright release or place him on waivers.

Dutton is also reporting that Kansas City has recalled second baseman Johnny Giavotella to take Francoeur's spot on the 25-man roster.

Francoeur originally signed with the Royals as a free agent prior to the 2011 season and at the time seemed like a very good fit. He would go on to produce perhaps his most complete season in the big leagues by hitting .285 with 20 homers, 87 RBIs and a surprising 22 stolen bases. According to Baseball Reference, Francouer was good for 3.2 wins above a replacement (WAR) level player that season, which marked the third time he finished three wins or higher in his first seven seasons.

As a result, the Royals rewarded Francoeur with a two-year, $13.5 million extension that he inked that August. And then things went down hill. Quickly.

In 2011, Francoeur was actually a negative 2.3 WAR overall and a negative 2.1 WAR defensively. Admittedly, I'm not the most in touch guy when it comes to evaluating and calculating defensive metrics, but I know enough to understand that's a dreadful number. Offensively, he struggled as well hitting .235 with only 49 RBIs.

This season, his average has dipped to .205 after striking out in his final at-bat against Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins on Saturday. That's... not good.

Also not good? The Royals will still owe Francoeur the $6.75 million left on his contract assuming no one claims him on waivers. That is not likely to work out for the Royals, but once Francoeur is clear and on the free agent market he should draw plenty of interest. As I noted when writing about Corey Hart on Saturday, the Yankees could be in the mix as they search for offensive help to replace Mark Teixeira.

Even if it isn't with New York, Francoeur will find work due to his past success and reputation as a good teammate. What he does with that work will go a long way in determining what his future will hold and how he'll be perceived entering his age 30 season.

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