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Pirates trade rumors: Does pursuing Jeff Francoeur make any sense whatsoever?

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

On today's game broadcast (and by the way, Eli Nellis is covering the game tonight, and I don't envy him, fun as it was to watch), FOX Sports' Jon Morosi said something about the Pirates potentially pursuing Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur. I don't mean to be dismissive, because Morosi is a good reporter and because the Pirates often see things I don't, but ... this isn't happening.

For the Pirates, Francoeur does check certain boxes -- he's a right-handed corner outfielder, and he's cheap. But he's a bad player. He's practically guaranteed to hit for an abysmal on-base percentage, his strike zone judgment is horrendous, and he doesn't hit for nearly enough power to make up for all that. It isn't as if you can magically improve his existing stat line by platooning him, either, because his teams have already been doing that for the past several seasons. He had a .539 OPS against lefties in 2013 and a .393 OPS against them in a handful of plate appearances in 2014, and he has a .547 OPS against them this year. (Weirdly, he has an .800 OPS against righties, which doesn't mean anything.) He's already getting about 40 percent of his plate appearances against lefties, which is a lot, but he's not hitting them, so it isn't helping. Obviously, he would probably regress to something better than an a .549 OPS against lefties in time, but regardless, he isn't a good platoon option.

You might think he would make up for his offensive deficiencies with his defense. He doesn't. As a young player, Francoeur was a plus defender with a great arm. Now, though, like most outfielders in their thirties whose other skills have eroded, he's not a good defender. UZR has him as a below-average right fielder in all of the last three seasons in which he's logged significant playing time. Defensive Runs Saved isn't a fan of his recent work, either. Both those systems loved Francoeur's fielding early in his career. I don't see Francoeur play every day, but outfield defense is mostly about range, and generally speaking, older guys who don't have great speed don't have much range.

In short, I see little to work with here. Maybe there's some case to be made for him as a good veteran presence for the clubhouse. That's about it. Francoeur might be a better bench option than Corey Hart, but it's close. There is no reason for the Pirates to give up a prospect for a player like this, and not even much of reason for them to take him as a waiver claim. Francoeur is a Phillie for a reason. The Pirates should aim higher, and I'm confident they will.