Jeff Francoeur first debuted in the major leagues with the Atlanta Braves 9 years ago as a 21 year old. He finished 3rd in the rookie of year voting despite only playing in 70 games because of his strong arm and powerful bat. The next season he hit 29 home runs. At age 23 he earned a gold glove award. To that point in his career he had accumulated 6.9 WAR and was looking like he would be an above average major league player for years to come. Fast forward to today and his career WAR is 7.0. Even for those that do not follow that stat closely I think it is clear that his utility as a major leaguer diminished after those first 3 seasons. It was from then on that his career as a journeyman player began.
Fast forward to today and Francoeur is just 30 years of age (just a few months older than the recently traded Chase Headley) and is on the verge of being called up to the major leagues for the first time this season. He has spent the last 4 seasons bouncing from the Mets to the Rangers to the Royals and to the Giants. Originally Francoeur signed a minor contract with the Cleveland Indians in the offseason, but was release. The Padres then signed Francoeur to a minor league contract just before the season and he got to spend the first half of it as an inaugural El Paso Chihuahua. While with the AAA club he did much of his normal thing. He slugged some dingers. He threw out baserunners. He stole a few bases. And he rarely walked. Oh, but he also pitched. 6 1/3 innings to be exact. The PCL tends to have a few games that burn through pitchers as the runs pile up, so Frenchy was called upon multiple times to help the pitching staff get through these tiring affairs.
Another interesting quirk about the El Paso saga was that he was subject to a prank that teammate Cody Decker filmed and produced into a youtube video for his Antihero Basell/Daylight Films label called On Jeff Ears:
There are rumors that Decker has another film planned that also features Francoeur.
Anyway, back to baseball. Francoeur will join the team with low expectations. The official move has not been announced, so at the moment we do not know what spot is opening up for him. It is possible that free-agent-to-be Chris Denorfia will be traded or that there is an injury to another OF (Carlos Quentin would be a usual suspect to round up) or that the under-utilized Jace Peterson will return to the minors. Whatever the case, Francoeur will at best be a platoon player and bench bat a la Xavier Nady earlier in the season. This is not an attempt by the Padres to make Francoeur into a Petco Park fixture, but instead to get through the season with warm bodies manning all positions.
In related news, some additional promotions were made that correspond to this move. To back fill Francoeur's spot with El Paso, OF prospect Rymer Liriano has been promoted to AAA and 1B/OF Alex Dickerson (who was rehabbing an injury in the lower minors) has been promoted to AA. This according to a tweet by Padres.com beat writer Corey Brock:
Movement in #Padres system: Big league expected to add OF Jeff Francoeur. OF Rymer Liriano to El Paso, OF Alex Dickerson to San Antonio.— Corey Brock (@FollowThePadres) July 23, 2014
Edit: Rumors were true. There's a new video by Cody Decker that features a prank on Frenchy. Frenchy Number Two: