Reds deal infielder Francisco to Braves

Reds deal infielder Francisco to Braves

Reds deal infielder Francisco to Braves
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds on Sunday traded third baseman Juan Francisco to the Braves for J.J. Hoover, a Minor League right-handed pitcher.

Hoover was rated by MLB.com as Atlanta's No. 13 prospect entering the season.

A big left-handed power hitter, Francisco was once an elite prospect in the Reds system. But after being injured often last season, he batted .196 with four home runs this spring and was out of Minor League options as Cincinnati attempts to make its final cuts of Spring Training.

"We're getting closer to breaking with the team," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We thought it was a great opportunity for us. We added to our pool of bullpen guys that we may need. I wish [Francisco] the best. I was really for the kid from the very beginning. It's just that some of the things weren't working out the way you wanted them to. Hopefully, he'll find happiness and get it together in Atlanta. If things go right and stay on the proper direction, he can be a force."

Francisco, 24, also did not endear himself to the Reds for, among other things, showing up to camp overweight and failing to properly rehabilitate a right calf injury over the winter.

"Talent has never been the issue here," Baker said. "If he had options, it would have been a much easier decision."

Upon being notified he was dealt, Francisco quietly took a couple of minutes to clear out the contents of his locker into a cardboard box, shook a couple of hands and left. Over parts of three big league seasons, he batted .284 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 81 games. Lifetime in the Minors since 2005, he batted .284 with 116 homers and 439 RBIs.

"It was a situation where Juan had a pretty good spring, but we just didn't see him fitting on the club out of Spring Training and he was out of options," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We were looking to add pitching depth to the organization. We believe we have."

Hoover, 24, went 25-19 with a 3.14 ERA in 99 appearances, including 61 starts, over four years (2008-11) in the Braves farm system and he was converted from a starter to reliever last season. He will be assigned to Triple-A Louisville and is part of the Reds' 40-man roster.

"We had very good reports," Jocketty said. "We saw him again [Saturday]. He was 92-94 mph yesterday. He's a sinker-slider guy. He's a late-inning guy. He's young. He's got three options and he's got a power arm. Good combination."

Later in the day, the Reds told lefty pitcher Jeff Francis that he would be headed to Triple-A Louisville. Cincinnati now has 26 players remaining in camp and must be at 25 players before Wednesday's 5 p.m. ET deadline.

Francisco entered camp as a leading candidate for a spot on Cincinnati's bench as a primary lefty power hitter and backup to third baseman Scott Rolen. The remaining bench candidates are down to Todd Frazier, Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris and Paul Janish. If the Reds go north with 12 pitchers, only two of those four players can make the club. Of the four, Frazier has had the best spring but he and Janish have options left. Valdez has no options left and Harris, a non-roster player, is the only left-handed hitter among them.

What the Reds no longer have is a big left-handed bat for the bench who can wield Francisco's power. Offense, however, is not the only category weighing into the final decisions.

"It's hard to have every spot [covered]," Baker said. "If you had every spot, you'd have a payroll of $150-200 million, right? Even the Yankees and Red Sox and big-money teams don't have every position covered. You try to cover as many positions as you can.

"Another big factor is right-left [matchups] -- can he play multiple positions? You need some speed. You need some mindset. You need some attitude. A lot of things that you need are variables that don't necessary show up on the stat sheet. How you play the game and how you prevent runs is equally as important as creating runs."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.