Blue Jays acquire Francisco from Phillies
Toronto adds outfielder in deal for Minor League pitcher Gailey
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies on Monday afternoon in a deal for left-hander Frank Gailey.
Francisco hit .244 with six home runs and 34 RBIs in 100 games for Philadelphia in 2011. The veteran has the ability to play all three outfield positions and is currently eligible for salary arbitration.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos said Francisco is a player the Blue Jays have scouted for a long time, and he is someone who can provide manager John Farrell with more options off of the bench.
"Francisco is a guy that we've liked," Anthopoulos said during a conference call with reporters on Monday night. "[We] saw him in the past and it's just an opportunity to get a player that adds depth for us at the right price, and it's just nice to have that balance.
"I don't think there's any more to it than that. It's a nice complement, it's a good guy to have coming off the bench, especially with the left-handed bats that we have."
The rumor mill was working overtime immediately following the trade, with varios media outlets speculating that the deal might be a precursor for a larger move.
The majority of the talk stemmed from the fact that Toronto already has a plethora of outfielders competing for playing time in 2012. Colby Rasmus will start in center, Jose Bautista in right, with Eric Thames and Travis Snider competing for the job in left.
The Blue Jays also have veteran Rajai Davis on a guaranteed contract next season, and he is expected to open the year as the fourth outfielder. Anthopoulos said adding even more depth to the outfield positions doesn't mean there's another deal in the works and that Francisco could make the team as a fifth outfielder.
Toronto's GM also pointed to the need for the club to add another right-handed hitter on the bench. The Blue Jays currently have four players in their starting lineup that hit from the left side, and Anthopoulos felt it was necessary to add another righty.
"It just gives John a lot of flexibility when we do face some tough left-handers," Anthopoulos said. "It's nice having some options off the bench that can help balance that a little bit, and we think Francisco will be a nice complement to all of those players."
Francisco has been with the Phillies' organization since July 2009, after being acquired from the Indians in the deal that also brought Cliff Lee to Philadelphia. Over parts of five Major League seasons, Francisco has a .260 batting average, with 45 homers and 174 RBIs in 460 games with the Tribe and Phils.
If Francisco, who will be on a non-guaranteed contract, makes the Blue Jays' 25-man roster out of Spring Training the club will go with five outfielders. That leaves two spots on the bench for a utility infielder and backup catcher.
What that means for utility man Mark Teahen was not immediately clear. Teahen is set to earn $5.5 million in the final season of his three-year deal, but does not appear to be a fit on next year's club. He hit just .200 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 78 games between the White Sox and Blue Jays in 2011.
To make room for Francisco on Toronto's 40-man roster, the club designated right-hander Jesse Chavez for assignment.
Gailey, 26, was selected in the 23rd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft by the Blue Jays, and he spent four seasons in their Minor League system. Gailey is 23-15 with a 2.45 ERA in 175 career games (one start).
As of Monday night, there did not appear to be another trade in the works, but Anthopoulos left the door open for additional moves in the near future. He continues to search for ways to upgrade the bullpen and starting rotation while also exploring scenarios that would provide an offensive upgrade for his club.
"There's no order, it's just a matter of continuing to try to get better, continuing to try to add players," Anthopoulos said when asked to rank his offseason priorities. "If I felt we were going to stay where we're at, that means we're done for the offseason.
"I don't plan to stop working today. We're still trying to actively get players through trade. We're still trying to sign some free agents and explore some things."