Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Boston Finds Francisco

Francisco is a slightly better, lefthanded version of Middlebrooks (BR)
Though the Boston Red Sox appear to be odds-on favorites to win the Pablo Sandoval sweepstakes, it never hurts to have a backup plan. That's why they claimed third baseman Juan Francisco off waivers today.

And as far as backup plans go, Francisco's not a bad one to have. He's a league average bat (99 OPS+) who's popped 34 home runs over the past two years in limited duty, including 16 in just 320 trips to the plate for Toronto last year. A very good source of lefthanded power, Francisco has slugged 48 dingers in just under 1,000 career at-bats and owns a .203 career ISO. He's also 27 years old, the perfect age for a baseball player.

Francisco's flaws (loads of strikeouts, poor defense, horrible against righthanded pitching) prevent him from being an everyday player, but at least he'd be able to hold a timeshare of third base with the righthanded Will Middlebrooks. Both have glaring platoon splits, but utilizing Middlebrooks against southpaw and Francisco against righties would likely result in 30 home runs and a .760 OPS between them. Platoons aren't ideal, but they work better than giving a bad player more playing time than he deserves.

Of course, none of this matters if and when the Sox sign Sandoval, at which point Francisco may be non-tendered, traded, or held in reserve. He's not going to move the needle much for Boston, but at least he gives them another option at the hot corner should Sandoval sign elsewhere. The team needs every scrap of power it can find to bolster what was an anemic offense last year, and Francisco fits the bill.

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