Only hours after tweeting that the Pirates are interested in bringing back former outfielder Nate McLouth, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports has another Buccos-related tidbit, this one reporting that former Rockies and Royals pitcher Jeff Francis could be a target in free agency.â†µ
Francis would be a throwback not for Pirate fans, but for manager Clint Hurdle, who managed the 30-year old lefty in Colorado. Francis pitched his most effective seasons under Hurdle in Denver, posting a 4.16 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 199 innings back in 2006 before serving as a cog in the Rockies' 2007 World Series run, winning 17 games with a 4.22 ERA and 165 strikeouts.â†µ
It doesn't appear that he's anything close to that pitcher now, however, after missing all of 2009 and part of 2010 while recovering from shoulder surgery. This past season, he went just 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA and 91 strikepits in 31 starts for the Royals.â†µ
That said, with the Pirates hurting for big league-level pitching in the absence of now-free agent Paul Maholm, a signing of Francis would make sense. He's certainly not a frontline pitcher, but he could offer a competent 175-200 innings, which is more than can be said about a number of the Bucs' internal options at this point. Whether the signing would be wise all depends on the money involved.