Jeff Francoeur could be back in the bigs for another season after all.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Monday the Miami Marlins are interested in adding a right-handed bat with veteran leadership and have considered Francoeur to fill that role.
Since falling off with the Atlanta Braves and eventually being traded in 2009, Francoeur has managed to find gigs to stick around. He knows the National League East well and is one of the most well-liked teammates in the league.
Francoeur played 119 games for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, hitting a much-improved .258 with 13 home runs and 45 RBI. He’s primarily played right field during the latter stages of his career but could fit well in either center or left.
Francoeur was one of the game’s top prospects a decade ago, coming up as a hometown hero with the Braves, and showed promise as the possible new face of the franchise. As Chipper Jones’ career neared an end, he emerged as a fan favorite—finishing third in the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year voting—but tailed off in his third and fourth seasons, eventually being traded to the New York Mets.
A year later, he was traded again to the Texas Rangers, then signed with the Kansas City Royals for two seasons before eventually being demoted to the minors, where he thought his career might be over.
But the humbling experience, he said, motivated him to a strong season with the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, where he batted .294 with 15 home runs in 98 games before the August call-up.
"I played eight and a half years and never thought about going back to the minor leagues," Francoeur said after being called up in July 2014. "It's definitely a lot more special this time than the first time. I think the first time I took it for granted."
His 2014 finish led to a non-roster deal with the Phillies last November, and after a convincing campaign, it looks like he could get bites again this winter.
The Marlins boast an incredibly young clubhouse and a first-year manager in Don Mattingly. Bringing in Francoeur will cost close to nothing and add an outfielder who’s played under the likes of Bobby Cox, Bruce Bochy and Bud Black—all players’ managers with a track record of leadership.