Jeff Francis close to a decision

According to the Denver Post, the Mets, Brewers, Pirates and Nationals, among others, have all talked to free-agent LHP Jeff Francis, who will likely sign a new contract soon.

The word during the Winter Meetings had been that the Mets prefer free-agent Chris Young to Francis, because Young is more likely to accept less money.

From what I could gather, in early December, Francis had been asking for $5 million and up to $3 million in incentives.

Last month, Tracy Ringolsby of FoxSports.com said the Mets offered a big-league contract to Francis, though Jerry Crasnick later contradicted the report.

Ringolsby described the Mets as a ‘strong candidate’ to sign Francis, who he felt will have ‘a legit shot at a spot in their rotation.’

Francis underwent shoulder surgery in 2009. He pitched in 104 innings last season, during which he missed additional time on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, and was 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA.

In terms of talent, I actually prefer Francis to Young. He doesn’t walk a lot of people, but does end up letting a lot of balls in play, though usually on the ground. His velocity was on par last season with where he was a few years ago, and he pitched a lot better than his results indicate. I think he’d be a good pick, and someone with the potential to surprise people at the back of the rotation.

Yes, I’m concerned about the shoulder, but the surgery was nearly two years ago, which is about how long in takes to fully recover from what he had done. He’s 29 years old, left-handed, he has a track record of success, and his statistics from last year suggest he’s on the right track to getting back to where he once was. Plus, going from Coors Field to Citi Field can’t hurt either.