The Colorado Rockies have reached an agreement to bring back left-handed starting pitcher Jeff Francis for one year. According to the Associated Press (via CBS4 in Denver), the 31-year-old pitcher will play his eighth season in Colorado and ninth overall while making $1.5 million.
He struggled in 2012, posting a 5.58 ERA over 113 innings and finishing with an 86 ERA+ in his return to the Rockies after a year in Kansas City.
Most pitchers shudder at the idea of pitching in the hitters paradise of Coors Field. But, according to Patrick Saunders of the The Denver Post, Francis has "always liked pitching there" and is "glad to be pitching for the Rockies again."
For a while, Francis looked like he was going to be the homegrown ace of the Rockies. Selected ninth overall in the first round of the 2002 draft, the Vancouver native joined the Rockies organization with high expectations.
He had a terrific season in 2003 for Single-A Visalia, and in 2004, he emerged as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He started 17 games for Double-A Tulsa and went 13-1 with a 1.98 ERA, striking out 147 batters in 113.2 innings. It wasn't long before he was in Denver,
He pitched well in the thin air, going 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA as a member of the 2007 National League champion Rockies. He won the opening games of the division series and NLCS that year, helping the streaking Rockies into their only World Series.
But recent shoulder issues derailed his path to success. He missed the entire 2009 season and has struggled in both Colorado and Kansas City to regain his solid stuff.
Francis is now back in Colorado, a link to their lone pennant.
He is also an inexpensive option for new Rockies manager Walt Weiss and is clearly not intimidated by Coors Field.
He actually enjoys pitching there. If he can replicate his early success, Rockies fans will enjoy Jeff seeing him pitch there as well.