After a long lull in activity, the Indians made a couple of depth roster moves yesterday that could be a little more exciting than the normal minor league signings. First, the Indians added right handed reliever Scott Atchison, formerly of the Mets, Red Sox, Giants and Mariners, then later on, they brought in a much more familiar face in Jeff Francoeur.
Atchison had one great season with the Red Sox (2012), but has otherwise been a below average reliever. In general, he is a rare case as he is a 38 year old that is still eligible for arbitration. In fact, the Mets released him at the end of last season largely because he was due a raise. The reason he started his career so late is that after nine years in the minors, he spent a few seasons in Japan before finally hitting it off with the Red Sox.
At this point in his career, he is unlikely to help the Indians out much at the Major League level, but will be a valuable addition to the AAA Clippers bullpen as a type of Crash Davis player. He could also be used during the season on the Indians during one of the many expected relief injuries. Essentially, this is another one of those no risk, no reward signings.
The other signing from January 6th is much more interesting. The Indians' offense has been a weakness for years, especially when considering outfield power and Francouer may be able to address that. Frenchy burst onto the scene with Atlanta and played in 162 games in each of his year two and year three seasons and knocked in over 100 runs each year. Since then, he has been traded, released, signed and repeat. Most recently, he was released mid-season by the Royals before finishing out the year with San Francisco. In the end, it was the first time he played less than 139 games since his rookie year and he bottomed out with a .204 average.
While this might not seem like the kind of player needed for a World Series run, he is exactly the kind of player that the Indians have been bringing in during the past few years. While most teams looked past him this year because of his 2013 numbers, the Indians placed much more emphasis on his seven previous seasons when he averaged 18 home runs and 78 RBI per year.
In addition to possibly being the Indians top offensive option in right field, Francoeur is a top defender as well. He won a Gold Glove in just his second full season and has amassed a very impressive 121 outfield assists. While the best Atchison can hope for this season is to start in Columbus, Francouer has a legitimate chance at making the opening day roster. If nothing else, even considering his worst season ever (last year), he is still ten times the hitter Jason Giambi is and is much more versatile as well. Assuming he can come into camp healthy, the Indians could do a lot worse than Francouer as their fourth outfielder.