Just whenever things looked good for the Royals, when it seemed their deep farm system was ready to produce waves of big league quality players…they go and prove they’re still the Kansas City Royals after all.
Reports indicate the Royals signed Jeff Francoeur to a two-year contract extension, keeping him with the club through 2013. The terms are not yet available but the money shouldn’t really be the issue here.
The Royals had a chance to really show a positive gain with Francoeur. They acquired him for a mere pittance and he responded with an excellent season by his own, skewed, standards. Despite moonlighting as an easy punchline for bloggers and internet hacks (hi!), Francoeur is a dependable platoon guy with a strong arm.
Rather than converting Frenchy into something tangible at the trade deadline, Kansas City locks him in for two more years. The obvious question: why? The Royals scouting staff is clearly adept at locating talent and the team does a decent job of developing them up to the big league club. Why not let them flex those muscles?
As of right now, Frenchy is just short of Type B free agent designation, meaning the Royals would not be entitled to a compensatory draft pick if he left as a free agent.
The Royals and Francoeur held a mutual option for 2012, meaning Francoeur could elect for free agency and leave the Royals with nothing. After a strong season like 2011, somebody would ink Francoeur and the Royals would be left with only their rich, prosperous minor league system.
Perhaps hanging onto him at this time is a tidy bit of business? Not only will he help the club if he continues his strong (with a small-S) play in 2012, he could boost his own stock enough to net a worthwhile return at the deadline or play himself into Type B status.
Making fun of the Royals is easy (and fun) but this deal shouldn’t preclude them from taking care of any business next year. If the team makes a step forward and challenges in the AL Central next year — and the team uses him carefully — this could end up benefiting the Royals. I’ll begin hoarding canned goods, just in case.
Update: early reports (via Fangraphs) have the deal as 2 years, $13.5 million dollars. Doesn’t really change my opinion on the matter – could they find a better alternative at that price point? The answer is a definitive maybe.