Thursday, December 25, 2014

Francisco traded to Toronto

Instead of tendering Ben Francisco a contract, the Phillies have traded the outfielder to Toronto for minor-league lefthander Frank Gailey.

Francisco traded to Toronto

Ben Francisco has been traded to the Blue Jays. (H. Rumph Jr./AP)
Ben Francisco has been traded to the Blue Jays. (H. Rumph Jr./AP)

Instead of tendering Ben Francisco a contract, the Phillies have traded the outfielder to Toronto for minor-league lefthander Frank Gailey.

Francisco, 30, made $1.18 million in 2011 and was due a raise through the arbitration process. He likely would have made less than $2 million in 2012.

He began 2011 as the team's starting right fielder but was on the bench by the end of May. His defining moment as a Phillie will be the pinch-hit, three-run home run in Game 3 of the National League division series against the Cardinals.

Ultimately, the Phillies decided there wasn't space for Francisco, who was used sparingly on Charlie Manuel's bench. That unit has undergone a massive overhaul this winter with the additions of Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix. With backup catcher Brian Schneider re-signed and Wilson Valdez likely to fill another spot, the bench is full. They will need another position player while Ryan Howard recovers from left Achilles surgery, but that will not be Francisco.

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Wigginton stands to be the primary righthanded bat off the bench, a role Francisco filled for much of his two-and-a-half seasons in Philadelphia. It's possible Wigginton spends the majority of time at first base in Howard's absence, which could leave Manuel without a righthanded bat off the bench when both Wigginton and John Mayberry Jr. start games.

By most accounts, Michael Cuddyer is no longer an option for the Phillies and the free agent will soon decide between the Twins and Rockies. The Phillies have not seriously considered Josh Willingham, another righthanded bat on the market.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said he had trade discussions with "20 to 25" teams at the winter meetings and could decide to acquire another righthanded bat through those means. The non-tender deadline at midnight Monday could create more free-agent options. (Keep an eye on a player like Ryan Spilborghs, who could be non-tendered by Colorado. The Phillies have liked him before.) Or they could simply stick with the current bats.

Gailey, 26, is a Philadelphia native. He attended Archbishop Carroll and West Chester University. The 5-foot-9 lefty posted a 3.41 ERA across single A and double A in 2011. He's only pitched 30 innings in double A over five minor-league seasons.

The Phillies now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.


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