Francoeur agrees to one-year deal with Royals
By BEN WALKER
AP Baseball Writer
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Jeff Francoeur started last season with the New York Mets and wound up in the World Series with the Texas Rangers.
The strong-armed outfielder was on the move again Wednesday, reaching agreement with the Kansas City Royals on a one-year contract for $2.5 million. The deal includes a mutual option for $4 million in 2012 and is subject to a physical.
“For me, I think it’s a great fit,” Francoeur said during a conference call. “It’s a great chance to play every day.”
“When I’ve been comfortable, I’ve tended to play well,” he said. “I’m not the greatest guy when I sit on the bench. I have ants in my pants.”
Francoeur has a .268 career average with 101 homers and 465 RBIs.
A former Gold Glove winner who twice topped 100 RBIs with Atlanta, Francoeur goes from his first World Series to a last-place team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1985 and has posted only one winning season in the last 16 years.
Exactly a month shy of his 27th birthday, Francoeur was more than happy to make the switch and see some familiar faces.
Royals general Dayton Moore worked in the Braves’ front office when Atlanta drafted him in the first round in 2002. “He was in my house when I signed my first contract,” Francoeur said.
Francoeur knows Royals manager Ned Yost, a longtime Atlanta coach. Royals pitcher Kyle Davies is a pal from their Atlanta days together. Braves president John Schuerholz was the general manager when Kansas City won the 1985 World Series and used to talk up the town, Francoeur recalled.
Traded from Atlanta to the Mets in the middle of the 2009 season, Francoeur hit .237 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs for New York this season.
The Mets traded him to Texas on Aug. 31 for infielder Joaquin Arias, and he hit .340 with two homers and 11 RBIs down the stretch for the AL West champions while cutting down his often-troublesome strikeout rate – chasing pitches far off the plate has always plagued him.
Francoeur with 3-for-24 with one RBI in nine postseason games. Texas lost the World Series in five games to San Francisco.
Francoeur’s career has taken a strange path. He hit .300 as a rookie with Atlanta in 2005, then hit .260 with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs the next year. In 2007, he won a Gold Glove and batted .293 with 19 homers and 105 RBIs.
The drop in his homer total, however, prompted him to bulk up. He said he went from 215 pounds up to 242 the next spring.
“It never was the same,” he said.
Updated December 8, 2010