Back in February, I wasn’t sure Jeff Francoeur would make the Atlanta Braves’ 25-man roster. Full credit to him: He made it, and he wasn’t nearly the worst of the 25. He did what the Braves, this time around, hired him to do. He played on a semi-regular basis and added a bit of value.
Francoeur leaves for the Miami Marlins with a WAR (wins above replacement) value of 0.5. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider his Baseball-Reference WAR over the past four seasons: Minus-2.5 with Kansas City in 2012; minus-1.4 with K.C. and San Francisco in 2013; minus-0.2 for 10 games with San Diego in 2014 and minus-1.1 last season with Philadelphia.
Also consider this: Francoeur’s 0.5 tied him for sixth with Anthony Recker among Braves position players. (Top five: Freeman, Inciarte, Markakis, Mallex, Jace.) Put another way, the guy signed to a minor-league contract wasn’t half as bad as Erick Aybar or A.J. Pierzynski.
As much as we like to remember the Frenchy of 2005 or 2007, he hasn’t been that guy for a long time. His career WAR after his first three seasons was 6.9; his career WAR today is 6.1. He’s about to start work for his ninth organization. At age 32, he has been employed by 30 percent of MLB’s franchises.
The Braves didn’t land any big-name prospects in the three-way trade for Francoeur, not that you’d expect a windfall for a journeyman rental. They got Dylan Moore, an infielder taken by the Rangers in Round 7 of the 2015 draft, and Matt Foley, a catcher taken by Miami in the 40th (and final) round last year. It was a bit surprising that the Braves sent an international bonus pool slot — No. 93, if you keep track of such things — to Texas in the transaction. As we know, the Braves cringe at the thought of ceding any opportunity to add anything.
Maybe Moore and/or Foley will amount to something. That’s why you make such a deal: You’re hoping the young guys you get for the older guy you’re selling give you a little something down the road. Francoeur gave the Braves a little something for five months, and it would be no shock if they tried to do a Kelly Johnson with him — re-sign him over the winter after trading him in midseason.
Teams like having Francouer around, which is why so many of them have. He’s no longer a good enough player to be indispensable to any club, but over the past five months he showed he still has some use. If that sounds like faint praise … well, it is. But it’s still praise.
Super fun reading: