After the Royals loss to Minnesota on Saturday, the Royals announced that they were designating Jeff Francoeur for assignment. That removes him from the active and 40 man roster. The Royals have ten days to trade him, release him, or try to send him to the minors.
To fill his spot on the roster, Johnny Giavotella was recalled and Dayton Moore stated that he would be coming up to play second base regularly. Giavotella had been playing in the outfield as well as at third base, but his natural position is second base.
The move makes sense for many reasons. First, with Jarrod Dyson back, the Royals were carrying three outfielders and just one backup infielder. After optioning Chris Getz to Omaha, the reins to second base were turned over to Elliot Johnson, who hasn’t done much of anything unless facing his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. Miguel Tejada is more optimally used as a second base or third base backup option.
Second, Francoeur just wasn’t cutting it. He had a great 2011 as a free agent for the Royals. But in 2012, his poor plate discipline caught up to him and he dropped 50 points in batting average and on base percentage and 100 points in slugging percentage. He also was slower in the field. This year, he’d lost playing time first to Dyson, then to David Lough after Dyson went on the disabled list.
Thus ends the tenure of a polarizing player in recent Royals history. Francoeur provided some veteran leadership, and while my personal thought is that those sorts of attributes are vastly overrated by broadcasters and front offices, I don’t think it was inconsequential. Francoeur had been hyped as ‘The Natural” while with the Braves, and that experience as a super-prospect and then as a flop. He seemed to be close with teammates and many fans liked him. As a personality, he was fine. There was Bacon Tuesday and the Frenchy Quarter. But he just wasn’t playing well and the Royals, already four games under .500, just can’t take an anchor on their lineup like Francoeur.
Add to that the solid play of David Lough and the potential of Lorenzo Cain and it was clear that only a significant turnaround was going to save Francoeur. Still, Dayton Moore was instrumental in signing Francoeur with Atlanta and it was one of the least surprising moves in recent baseball history when the Royals signed Frenchy in the winter of 2010. Remember, there were rumors of the Royals trading for Francoeur before they signed him as well, so he was on the Royals’ radar for a while.
Francoeur’s last at bat was a foul tip strikeout while pinch-hitting in the ninth inning on Saturday.
His final line for the Royals works out to a .254/.301/.716 with 39 homers over 359 games. His post-2011 numbers, though, are pretty bad – .229/.278/.365 with 19 homers in 206 games. It was time.