The Atlanta Braves have signed veteran outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.
The deal was first reported by MLB.com Braves beat writer Mark Bowman, and the Braves made the deal official on their Twitter account.
#Braves agree to terms on minor league contract with OF Jeff Francoeur with an invitation to attend Spring Training.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) February 22, 2016
Francoeur’s career has now come full circle. The 32-year-0ld got his first chance in the majors with the Braves after the team drafted him with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft. On top of that, he was born and grew up in Atlanta and attended Parkview High School in Lilburn, about 25 miles from Turner Field.
Francoeur spent parts of his first five big-league seasons with the Braves, finishing with inconsistent numbers overall. He played in all 162 games in back to back years in 2006 and 2007 and was highly productive at the plate, hitting .260 with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs in 2006, and he followed that up with a slash line of .293/.338/.444 with 19 home runs, 105 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 102 in 2007. The Braves decided to trade him to the New York Mets in 2009 for Ryan Church.
After playing the majority of the 2014 season with the San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas, Francoeur signed a minor-league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for 2015. In 343 plate appearances he hit .258/.286/.433 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Francoeur now has a chance to close out his career with his hometown team, possibly earning a bench role as the team’s fifth outfielder behind Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Hector Olivera, and Michael Bourn.
Francouer has a reputation as a great team leader, especially when working with younger players. That reputation probably played a part in the Braves’ decision to bring him back.
No word on whether Frenchy’s pitching career played a part in the decision.