Phillies to meet with Francoeur's reps

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Jeff Francoeur is on the Phillies' radar as a potential replacement for Jayson Werth. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

You can pencil at least one appointment into Ruben Amaro Jr.'s winter meetings day-planner. Amaro and assistant GM Scott Proefrock will meet with representatives for free agent right fielder Jeff Francoeur, possibly as early as today, according to a baseball source who has spoken to Francouer.

The Phillies are legitimately intrigued with the possibility of adding the right-handed hitting outfielder to their line-up. In fact, Charlie Manuel has apparently expressed interest in working with Francouer to help fix his approach at the plate.

That doesn't mean a deal is imminent. And there is no indication that the Phils are focused soley on Francoeur. Fellow former Brave Matt Diaz is another possibility who is a free agent. And the club has expressed confidence in reserve outfielder Ben Francisco.

Still, Francoeur is very much on the radar.

Francoeur has endured a roller coaster ride over the past three seasons that has seen him move from the Braves to the Mets to the Rangers before being non-tendered by Texas after the World Series.

In Francoeur's first three seasons in the majors, he hit .280 with a .319 on base percentage, .782 OPS, and 62 home runs for the Braves. But he hit just .239 with a .653 OPS in 2008, spending some time in the minors in the middle of the year. In 2009, the Braves shipped him to the Mets, where he hit .268 with a .734 OPS and 21 home runs in 199 before moving to the Rangers this past August.

Francoeur would appeal to the Phillies in several different ways. First, he has always hit well against left-handed pitchers (.300 with an .805 OPS last season, .299 with an .824 OPS for his career). Second, he is a solid defender with a strong arm. Third, he will turn just 27 on Jan. 8, which means he still has some upside.

If the Phils did end up signing Francoeur, they would welcome a player who is the exact opposite of Jayson Werth in his patience at the plate. He averages just 3.42 pitches-per-plate appearance in his career, and has swung at 46 percent of his first pitches (the major league average during the span, according to Baseball-Reference.com, is 27 percent).

Other teams reported to be in on Francoeur are the Royals and the Rockies. But it sounds as if the Phillies have a legitimate shot to sign him, if they choose to go in that direction.

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