Francisco will be considered a “super two” player, a player with less than three years of service time, but one who ranks in the top 22 percent of all two-year players in terms of service time. According to baseball-reference.com. Francisco has two years and 156 days in the big leagues.
It was a tale of two seasons in 2013 for Estrada, who was inconsistent and hit hard prior to going on the disabled list with a hamstring injury on June 5.
In 21 starts overall, Estrada was 7-4 with a 3.87 ERA and a career-best 1.078 WHIP in 128 innings, with 29 walks and 118 strikeouts. But prior to going on the disabled list, Estrada was 4-4 in 12 starts with a 5.32 ERA and 1.356 WHIP in 69.1 innings with 18 walks and 62 strikeouts.
Once he returned on Aug. 7, Estrada was a difference pitcher. In nine starts, he was 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA and microscopic 0.75 WHIP in 58.2 innings, with 11 walks and 56 strikeouts. In his return on Aug. 7 against the San Francisco Giants, Estrada allowed just one hit over five innings and he later shut out the Cincinnati Reds over seven innings on one hit on Aug. 25 and held the Atlanta Braves to no runs and just two hits over seven innings on Sept. 23.
Estrada earned $1.955 million this season and will likely be in line for somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million for 2014.
Badenhop, a groundball specialist, made 63 appearances in his first season for the Crew, with a 3.47 ERA and 1.187 WHIP in 62.1 innings. He walked 12 and fanned 42. He was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on Dec. 1 of last year in exchange for minor leaguer Raul Mondesi and had previously pitched for four years with the Florida Marlins. Originally a member of the Detroit Tigers organization, Badenhop went to the Marlins as part of the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit./
Badenhop earned $1.55 million last season as a middle reliever and allowed 14 of 41 inherited runners to score. He is projected for a $2.1 million salary in 2014.
Francisco came over from the Atlanta Braves for minor leaguer Thomas Keeling on June 3 after he was designated for assignment by Atlanta. He came into the season sharing time at third base with Chris Johnson, but was shoved out of the job when Johnson hit so well.
After coming to Milwaukee, Francisco hit .221/.300/.433 with 13 homers and 32 RBI in 270 plate appearances, but logged a whopping 95 strikeouts while learning a new position at first base.
Despite logging just 67 games at first, Francisco tied for fourth in the National League with 10 errors, trailing only Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds (14 errors in 161 games), Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers (11 errors in 151 games) and Adam LaRoche of the Washington Nationals (11 errors in 149 games).
Francisco also basically stopped hitting in September, managing a line of just .121/.194/.152 in 36 plate appearances with a double and an RBI to go with 16 strikeouts. He was renewed for $496,250 by the Braves in 2013 and is projected to receive $1.4 million next season.
The deadline for the Crew to tender a contract or arbitration is the end of November. Any player non-tendered becomes a free agent.
The Crew would be well served to bring back Estrada, who earned another look with his strong final two months. Badenhop can eat innings in the middle of the bullpen, but opinion is widely divided on Francisco.
On one hand, the left-handed slugger is just 26 years old, but he’s already been moved along by two organizations since 2012. On April 1, 2012, the Cincinnati Reds dealt him to Atlanta for reliever J.J. Hoover and the Braves got less in return when they dealt Francisco to Milwaukee in June.
He’s been a poor fielder at two positions (third base and first base) over parts of five big-league seasons and is a lifetime .243/.300/.432 hitter with more strikeouts (259) than hits (172).
But manager Ron Roenicke remains intrigued by Francisco’s power potential, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in September:
“He’s got tremendous power. It’s unbelievable how strong he is. But really, what we want is just to be consistent in what you’re doing up there. He’s so strong, when he squares up balls, they’re going to be gappers, homers. But he can’t continue to chase pitches.”
The plan is for Francisco to play first base in winter ball.
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