July 29, 2014

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Indians cut veteran Jeff Francoeur despite solid camp, say versatile infielder-outfielder Elliot Johnson just better fit

Jeff Francoeur

Jeff Francoeur

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Indians released outfielder Jeff Francoeur on Saturday.

The Indians signed the 30-year-old to a minor league free-agent contract on Jan. 6 and invited him to major league training camp.
Francoeur had 35 at-bats with the Indians this spring, hitting .286 with one home run and 10 RBI.

But the Indians also signed infielder/outfielder Elliot Johnson to a minor league contract on Jan. 27. Johnson’s versatility made him the better choice for the Indians, according to general manager Chris Antonetti.

“Jeff had a really good camp. For us, it’s the decisions for how we put all the pieces together and not individually who is the best player,” Antonetti said.

“Elliot had a great camp. His versatility helps us expand our bench. He gives us a lot of different options. He and Mike Aviles really complement the guys that we have.”

Francoeur played 59 games for Kansas City last season, hitting .208 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. He was released by the Royals on July 5 and signed by the San Francisco Giants four days later.

Francoeur hit .194 for the Giants in 22 games with no home runs and four RBIs.

The Indians want to help Francoeur find another job in the major leagues, which led to the timing of the decision.

“It was really tough to tell him, not only because of the type of player he is but the type of person,” Antonetti said. “He has a lot of fans here, including me, Tito (Terry Francona) and the guys in the clubhouse. We all feel he could help a major league team.”

“We are going to let the dust settle with Jeff,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think he is very aware that if he needed someone to speak on his behalf, both Chris and I would jump at the opportunity. He made quite an impact on our team in a spring training setting which is not easy to do.”

The Indians also informed outfielder Matt Carson that he will not be on the major league roster. Carson will remain in the major league camp for the last week. He will likely start the season at Triple A Columbus.

Right-handed reliever Vinnie Pestano was told that he will make the Indians’ Opening Day roster.