Brian Cashman grabbed headlines today with his reaching out to Derrek Lee and his public courtship of Chipper Jones in his effort to shore up the hole at first base left by Mark Teixeira’s injury. However, while none of those potential replacements seems likely to sign the New York Yankees did sign someone to add to the outfield mix. Ben Francisco, recently released by the Cleveland Indians has agreed to a minor league deal with the Yankees.
Francisco, 31, was hitting .400/.520/.700 with two RBI and six doubles this spring with the Indians in 11 games and 20 at-bats. Last season Francisco split the year between the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays and hit .234/.282/.402 with four home runs and 15 RBI. He is a career .257/.326/.425 hitter with 49 homers and 189 RBI across 1,535 at-bats.
For a right-handed batter he doesn’t offer much of a split against left-handers. In his career Francisco has posted a .260/.324/.430 line against righties and a .252/.329/.414 line against lefties. Francisco is a younger alternative to Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz and a little more consistent than Melky Mesa whom he will be competing against for a spot on the Yankees’ roster.
Matt Diaz has not had a very good spring, hitting .190/.227/.190 with four singles and one RBI and the Yankees could be viewing Juan Rivera as a potential option at first base. Francisco’s real edge comes in his ability to play all three outfield spots and the Yankees will need that kind of versatility as they try and find the best possible bench to complement their injury-depleted lineup.